The Reasons Foot Baths Exist

To prove the title of this blog post true, AIB International food safety professional and sanitation expert, Sofia Boetcher gave further evidence on why foot baths are necessary and not a piece of equipment for employees to step over.

Foot baths are designed to wash shoe soles before employees enter the production area. If a facility produces low-risk food products or if there is no chance of contamination, a foot bath is not needed. Usually beverage facilities do not use foot sanitizing baths, they are more critical for dairy facilities, meat production, and fresh cut high care zones where product is sensitive to pathogenic microorganisms. However, a captive shoe program is important for facilities with different allergen control zones. Bakeries use a variation of a foot bath called a foot brushing station and mats to remove flour residues from footwear.

Footwear can be a source of transferring pathogens from low to high risk production areas. A foot sanitizing bath is a very simple form of biosecurity that helps prevent the potential spread of disease. Organisms have the potential to survive for several days or weeks stuck to the bottom of shoes.

Here are some ways your product could become contaminated by bacteria from the floor:

  • Picking items up from the floor with gloves, trash, or a dropped box etc. and using that same glove to continue working with product
  • Dropping packaging material onto the floor, but picking it up and continuing to touch product while packing
  • Buckets of rework sitting on the floor, picked up, and dumped into bowls, however the bottom of buckets are touched with gloves, but gloves are not changed before touching dough

Footbaths, which have a tray with a foam mat soaked in sanitizer, can eliminate these organisms.

The irony of a foot bath is that unless properly changed and maintained, foot baths can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Organic material can build up in the container to the point that the sanitizer is no longer effective. Additionally, foot baths need to be monitored for the appropriate volume of sanitizing solution.

FDA investigators are now allowed to swab any area of the facility they deem reasonable for a lab review – this includes a foot bath. Listeria, Salmonella or other relevant pathogen swabs are needed depending on the purpose of the foot bath.


Does your facility use a foot bath? Tell us in the comments.


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