5 Ways To Maintain Food
Safety In An Older Facility
By Mike Keough
You don’t need to build a brand new facility to meet modern-day food safety standards. The reality is
that most companies don’t have the budget
to build from scratch as often as they’d
like, but that doesn’t mean your decades-old plant can’t be a shining example of
Let’s look at five things you can do now
to ensure your older facility is up to today’s
food safety standards.
1. Inspect For Roof Leaks
Roof leaks can create major issues in
your facility in more ways than one. Leaks
can foster mold and bacterial growth, alter
the ambient temperature and introduce
external contaminants. It doesn’t have to
be a giant hole in the ceiling, either —
relatively small leaks can wreak havoc.
It’s important to conduct roof inspections
on a routine basis to catch leaks early.
Once a leak is noticeable inside a building,
damage has already been done. Roof
inspections and roof perimeter inspections
can be handled by local maintenance
teams, but large roofing companies often
provide maintenance services as well.
You don’t necessarily have to do a full
inspection of your entire roof every year,
but for a large facility it’s ideal to inspect
about 25 percent of your roof every year in
order to stay on top of potential damage.
If you do have a leaky roof, the number-
one goal of your maintenance group is to
get a quick fix in place. What that fix is
depends on the roof structure in place.
One thing to keep in mind with large roof
systems is that a visible drip could actually
be originating from a leak that’s a hundred
feet away, and they can be extremely hard
2. Maintain Floors And
Avoid Pooling Water
Flooring cracks and other issues are
common in older food facilities, and the
more they are neglected, the larger they
can get. These issues are typically pretty
evident because cracks are visible and it’s
fairly easy to spot pooling water.
If you want to avoid digging up the
entire floor, one “quick fix” is using floor
coatings and toppings to areas of the floor
to change its pitch and direct water toward
an appropriate drain.
It’s common for flooring to crack around
drains due to thermal expansion, so it’s
important to maintain these in order to
avoid dangerous levels of listeria and
erosion under the slab. Especially in older
buildings, running a vision system (CCTV)
down a certain percentage of drains and
developing a baseline is recommended.
Then, conduct scheduled checks for any
material breakdown, rotting or buildup.
There are many solutions to repairing
in-floor or underground piping, and your
piping system may require a specific
solution as all defects and piping materials
are likely different.
You can also install additional drains.
Although this requires digging up the floor
a little bit, it’s not as much as a full flooring
overhaul. If you can’t get proper drainage
by engineering a fix, you can always have
plant personnel squeegee and mop floors
to prevent pooling water.
Of course, if you have serious drainage
issues, these suggestions are only buying
you time for the inevitable reality of redoing
your flooring system. Remember: Standing
water is not acceptable in any facility.
3. Maintain Door Seals
Your facility’s doors are critical to
food safety because they can present a
major, ongoing risk for contamination.
Interior facility doors should be in proper
operating condition and have proper air
seals on all four sides. With exterior doors,
it’s important to continually maintain the
rubber sweeps at the bottom.
A good way to test the seal at the bottom
of your doors is to try to fit a piece of paper
under the door or shine a flashlight at it.
If you can slip a sheet of paper through
or if you can see the light from the other
side, that’s a red flag. Exterior doors may
need attention every year, and that rubber
sweep may need to be replaced or adjusted
multiple times per year.
The reality is that
don’t have the
budget to build from
scratch as often
as they’d like, but
that doesn’t mean
plant can’t be a
of food safety.