Sure, there’s a cost to food safety. But have you considered the cost of not addressing the issue?
Among those keeping track is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which estimates the cost of food-borne illnesses at $152 billion per year, up from $35 billion per year in 1997. That’s why Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act. Unfortunately, many food contamination investigations have linked cause to faulty facility designs or inadequate construction material practices. For example, peanut butter recalls in 2006 and 2008 were partially caused by roof leaks, which led to Salmonella growth within the facilities.
It’s clear that “business as usual” will not be the same. This especially pertains to outdated facilities that may require extensive plant, mechanical, electrical and control system modifications and/or an update of plant sanitation and maintenance protocols. Meanwhile, many new standards and requirements could overwhelm a plant operator and impact daily plant activities.
ESI can help safeguard your good name. ESI Design specializes in food facilities; we incorporate food safety in every step of design and construction.
Here’s an example. One client’s main building had everything: raw material storage, production, packaging and a finished goods distribution center. The client wanted to move production from the existing building to a new “clean room” processing addition. ESI Design helped establish the expanded site’s layout so it (1) established a clear flow of raw product from the existing building, (2) concentrated all processing and packaging in the new addition and (3) returned finished product to original site without cross contamination.
We recognize daily operations rely on important sanitation steps and programs. ESI knows these include some of the smallest details, such as painted space for rodent protection behind racks at exterior walls, continuous open pits for dock levelers and tight-sealing doors.
There are more ways to design food safety features into sites.
Another popular new example involves walk-on insulated metal panel ceilings. These ceilings let operators install all process utility piping in the interstitial space. This way, personnel can maintain or install new services without impacting production.
More plants also are converting air handling systems from conventional use (of evaporative unit coolers with makeup and exhaust fans) to rooftop mounted, hygienic air handling systems with micron filtration capabilities. These systems provide exceptional environmental control in production areas and prevent condensation issues through proper use of controls to adequately purge fog during sanitation cycles and to quickly dry out the rooms prior to production start-up.
ESI Design also believes that plant sanitation team members should join preconstruction planning discussions to help develop good construction work processes and coordinate scheduling.
By Jack Michler
Jack Michler has more than 30 years of construction experience with an emphasis on food processing, food safety and low-temperature facilities.
Four your consideration
Ready to improve site security? Take a fresh look at …
… ONGOING PRACTICES / PROCEDURES. Operators need documented policies and active training programs to cover security incident reporting, workplace violence, access con-trol, visitor management, prohibited items and emergency response. Non-employees should be restricted to non-product areas unless escorted by an authorized employee.
… LOW-TRAFFIC AREAS, DOCKS, PARKING. Electrical, refrigeration, gas storage, water systems and HVAC mechanical rooms or areas should be secured. Limit access to areas containing cleaning supplies, pest control and other chemicals. Control loading dock access and check actual deliveries against scheduled deliveries. Use tamper-proof seals on outgoing shipments. Employee vehicles need some form of visual identification. Also con-sider any parking structures as part of the outer boundary layer of security.
… NEW TECHNOLOGIES. Internet protocol cameras are overtaking analog cameras in video surveillance. Meanwhile, operators should integrate video surveillance, card access and intrusion detection systems. Video analytics is an emerging video surveillance technology that uses video processing algorithms to detect real-time events. Because employee theft is a mov-ing target, operators should also consider installing wireless cameras to cover “hot spots.”
… PARTNERING WITH ESI. ESI helped one customer implement a “layered” site security plan. It started with perimeter hardscape, fencing, gates and turnstiles. Next, it involved physi-cal entry and access controls – along with intrusion detection. It extended all the way to fuel tank video surveillance and additional steps to secure trash compactor doors and roof hatches.
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