During inspections of food prep areas, we frequently have found a time-temperature issue involving food residues on preparation surfaces. For example, meat residues accumulating over an 8- to 12-hour period, in a lightly chilled food processing facility, can support the growth of microbes on these surfaces. The cause of many cross-contamination events is typically constant contact between gloved hands, microbial food surfaces and high-risk food.
In the case of this particular customer, increased bacterial monitoring with swab tests found that microbial contamination rapidly spread to many parts of the facility late in the day by the end of the production period, most likely through cross-contamination by hand contact to other equipment and areas. If end-of-shift cleaning is not effective, these microbes may survive and remain on equipment and food preparation surfaces until the next day.
Our solution was to implement additional spot-sanitizing of high-risk surfaces throughout the day. We implemented a 10-minute “hygiene break” every three hours throughout the production period. During the break, all staff in the portioning and packaging sections stopped work activities, cleared the area of food items, rinsed work surfaces with potable water, and applied a 5% peracetic acid rinse with a two-minute contact time. These minimal investments of effort dramatically reduced surface bacteria counts.
- Accumulation of food residues on critical surfaces with time-temperature risks
- Lack of spot-sanitising to reduce microbes to a safe level on food surfaces
- Frequency of spot-sanitising too low to prevent growth of microbes on surfaces
- Cross-contamination of high-risk surfaces
Controls and Corrective Actions:
- Conduct frequent spot cleaning of high-risk food surfaces
- Assess time-temperature hazards associated with food residues in high-risk services such as packaging
- Consider making packaging rooms colder to reduce time-temperature hazard
- Conduct microbial assessment and verify