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Keeping floors safe and hygienic

31 October 2016

It is important to ensure that floors meet with current requirements relating to safety and hygiene. 

Maintaining food processing environments and especially flooring hygiene and safety presents specific challenges for food and beverage manufacturers. The food hygiene legislation (Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 and the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regs 2013 states that: 

• Floor surfaces must be maintained in a sound condition and be easy to clean and disinfect. Floors should also be non-slip and durable. 
• They must be made from materials that are impervious (i.e. do not allow fluid to pass through) and non-absorbent. Thermoplastic coverings, terrazzo and epoxy resins may be suitable. 
• Where appropriate, floors must allow adequate surface drainage that is laid to falls so the waste water flows to a drain or channel. 
• The junction between walls and floors or floors and fixed equipment should be coved to allow for easy cleaning. 
What can you do to ensure that floors at your food or beverage facility comply with legislation? 

Make sure floors are seamless: Any open joints, cracks or grout lines provide a feeding ground for bacteria. Seamless floors provide no space for organic bacteria to develop or liquids to puddle while the use of coving will create a seamless transition between floor and wall. 

For added protection against dangerous pathogens use anti-bacterial coatings: To protect a facility against microbial growth, fungi, mould and potential cross contamination of other surfaces and equipment, use antibacterial coatings Stonhard’s Stonplus AM9, for example is an organic thione compound which acts as a permanent bacteriostat against a broad range of bacteria and fungi. 

Install floors that are easy to clean: A chemical and stain resistant surface that is easy to clean is one of the most important factors in choosing a floor. In food processing areas they need to be able to withstand the harsh chemicals, steam and water pressure as well as oxidising agents, sol-vents and organic acids. Breaking down food on the floor can be very aggressive to some epoxies, while a dense urethane flooring will resist the absorption of material into the surface, making cleanup easier. It important to retain good housekeeping rules and to clean up any spillages as soon as they occur and remove any dust or debris quickly. Fats and oils should be removed with a special degreaser suited to the job.

Make floors safe: Even in a well-maintained environment people can fall on slippery surfaces. Choose a slip-resistant, thermal shock-resistant textured surface to protect staff and visitors from accidents. Stonhard’s Stonclad UT, for example, is a urethane-based formulation with a textured surface. Its dense, impervious surface can resist the food acids and chemicals commonly found in the processing environment while retaining anti-slip characteristics. It also comes with HACCP Accreditation approval, which makes it suitable for use in food preparation, packaging food processing areas. 

Pitch floors to drains: To ensure effective drainage, floors need to be pitched to drains at 1% or 2%. Poured floors can be sloped away from equipment for removal of all overflow or waste water, minimising any puddles created as a result of poor drainage. Polymer flooring overlay can be a cost-effective way of updating an existing concrete floor without removing the floor altogether. 

Never compromise on design: Just because a floor needs to be seamless as well as be chemi-cal, slip, thermal shock and impact resistant. It does not have to be uninspiring. Stonhard offers a choice of standard and customised colours and blends for a more creative flooring solution and these can be employed to create logos, signage for walkways, and other design features. 

Consider the environment: Choosing an environmentally friendly floor will demonstrate a company's commitment to the environment and will help meet regulations and low emissions criteria. Stonhard’s polymer flooring systems have a low VOC content, utilising sustainable or recycled materials where possible. Due to the health hazards associated with lead and chromium compounds, the lead sulfochromate based yellow pigment has been removed the production process and over 90% of the company’s new product development and reformulation efforts are geared to water based urethanes or 100% solid epoxy based chemistry, providing safer floors and reducing hazardous waste. 

Seamless poured floors can be installed quickly, some in less than two days, minimising disruption to production. They require minimum repairs, have a long lifecycle and offer a sustainable solution. Choosing the right floor and finish, especially when handling or storing food or beverage products, is vital to ensure a safe, hygienic facility that meets all current regulatory requirements. 

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