The goal of any sanitation program is to achieve and maintain a sanitary environment, a vital component for the production of safe and wholesome products. In this webinar, we were joined by Nexcor Food Safety Solutions to discuss the six steps to an effective sanitation program, as they offered insights into how technology and innovation can simplify the sanitation process.
Foremost, management support is critical to the success of any sanitation program. Senior leadership has to understand the value of sanitation – it can sometimes be perceived only as a cost, so it’s important to explain the benefits of sanitation as risk mitigation, highlighting the possible cost of not having a strong program in place. Their support will help you develop a sanitation program that meets your needs and encompasses the six key steps to an effective sanitation program.
Technology and innovation to support your sanitation program will not replace food safety and sanitation basics like HACCP, SSOPs, a Master Cleaning Schedule and training. It should, however, enhance or simplify what’s already in place. These technologies are not “one size fits all,” so your solution must accommodate your current operation, but also be scalable as you grow.
1. Assess Needs
Review your entire facility to understand what your sanitation program should cover. This includes interior processing equipment and building structure, the exterior of the building and grounds, and warehouse/distribution areas. This should also include any recent changes you’ve made in your facility to support increased worker health efforts. Thinking about your sanitation plan as a living document allows for continuous assessment.
In this assessment, data from your facility can help address questions like “Are our corrective actions making an impact?”, and “Are there recurring issues and what’s the root cause of those issues?”, each of which can help you understand your needs.
2. Assess Risks
What is the most critical cleaning you do, and do you know why? Have you established cleaning priorities? In developing a risk assessment, consider each object and area noted in your needs assessment.
Further, you will want to review process and packaging equipment, as they can present diverse challenges. Most will require a combination of wet and dry cleaning procedures, accompanied by a schedule that must consider, at a minimum, any microbiological issues, allergen issues and foreign material potential.
3. Review Resources
Look at your Daily Cleaning Schedule and Master Cleaning Schedule, along with the procedures and resources to support those efforts. Those resources include not only the correct number of people to execute cleaning tasks, but also the right expertise, training, time and equipment in your facility.
Do you have robust cleaning procedures in place? They should be written in a way that details how you clean and can be used by your entire team. It should also define what “clean” is for your facility. A visual assessment? A swab test?
Management consultant Peter Drucker told us, “What gets measured, gets improved.” Are you measuring your costs, environmental swab results, or customer complaints? By setting a baseline, you can make informed decisions that drive improvement.
Automated data collection will provide you with executable information. By tracking training, you can affirm that an individual is qualified to compete an assigned task. Receiving alerts for critical information based on your needs and escalations will direct attention from the necessary team members, ensuring that nothing is overlooked.
4. Implement Program
After all resources identified in Steps 1-3 have been obtained and created, and all risks have been analyzed to mitigate, it’s time to implement your program. This will include training for your team, followed by verification and validation that your program is working as it should.
5. Review Program
By assessing the data from your program, including what you learn from inspections and audits (including third-party and regulatory audits), you will know when and where you aren’t cleaning enough or where you’re cleaning too much. It will also help inform whether you have the right resources in place.
6. Improve Program
Current conditions dictate the frequency and level of cleaning required, but because these variables change, your sanitation program should also change.
It’s management’s responsibility to:
- Operate in a food-safe mode
- Correct unsanitary conditions
- Demonstrate continuous improvement
By maintaining a constant “dialogue” between data and practice, you will know when changes to your program are necessary, and also when improvements have been made.
As you have questions or need additional insights, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.