Conversations about food safety and cleaning tend to focus on sanitation — sanitary equipment, chemical sanitizers, and so on. Industrial vacuum cleaners are more often discussed in the context of plant and worker safety, for example, combustible dust fire prevention.
But an industrial vacuum cleaner can also play a critical role in your food safety plan. Here are five ways an industrial vacuum improves food safety.
1. Preventing bacterial contamination
An estimated 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne pathogens every year. Three thousand of them die.
For the food industry, the costs associated with contamination are not small. Half of all recalls cost the companies more than $10 million (some cost more than $100 million), and that doesn’t count the damage to their reputation.
Brooms, mops, and compressed air are commonly used to clean food processing facilities. But these systems have some major drawbacks:ind
- Sweeping and compressed air don’t eliminate dust. They just move it around.
- Mopping introduces water. This gives bacteria a place to thrive.
Only by using a food-grade industrial vacuum cleaner with advanced filtering technology can you be confident that you’re getting rid of the bacteria and other pests that cause contamination problems.
2. Avoiding cross-contamination of foods with allergens
Food allergy reactions cause more than 200,000 people each year to require emergency medical care. To maintain an allergen-free environment, you must remove 100% of allergens from your plant and equipment.
Industrial vacuum cleaners fitted with appropriate filters, such as HEPA and ULPA (ultra-low particulate air) filters, help you avoid cross-contamination with allergens in two ways:
- First, they remove the allergens from the production environment.
- Then, they decontaminate the exhaust stream to prevent the allergens from recirculating back into the environment.
3. Cleaning in hard-to-reach places
Brooms and mops can only reach so far. And they can’t always reach all of the places dirt and bugs like to hang out. An industrial vacuum system enables you to access those hard-to-reach places, like air vents and the tops of equipment, so that you know that every inch of your facility is clean.
4. Making your cleaning equipment easy to clean
The idea of sanitary design in food processing doesn’t just apply to the equipment used to make the food. To ensure food safety, all equipment used in a food facility needs to be easy to clean.
Brooms and mops can harbor dust and bacteria. Food-grade industrial vacuums are designed modularly and using stainless steel, so they are easy to clean and sanitize. This means you won’t accidentally introduce further food safety problems during your cleaning process.
5. Keeping you in compliance
Finally, for all of the reasons above, an industrial vacuum can help keep you in compliance with current regulations.
Strict compliance is particularly important as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) comes into play. FSMA requires almost all food processing companies to establish and implement a Hazard Analysis Risk-Based Preventative Controls (HARPC) plan, which focuses on food safety risk prevention. In the new FSMA environment, brooms and mops won’t be sufficient to demonstrate to auditors your commitment to improving food safety through cleaning and sanitation.
Nilfisk offers a full line of HEPA vacuums to help food processing facilities avoid food safety risks. Learn more.