It may have begun with just one employee who wanted to cut corners, but three food company executives have learned the hard way the importance of keeping up with day-to-day cleaning standards. Stewart Parnell, the former CEO of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America, was given a 28-year prison sentence relating to a deadly salmonella outbreak in 2008, as reported by CNN. The contamination of peanut butter paste and subsequent cover-up killed nine and sickened more than 700 people. Parnell's brother and partner was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and the Virginia plant's quality assurance manager received five years.
While few instances of contamination result in multiple deaths and hundreds of reported illnesses, this case underscores why proper cleaning procedures are a must, especially in food industry plants. Even one affected customer getting sick from contaminated food products is one too many.
To make sure that every serving of food that comes from your facility is free of contaminants, you'll need to have the right cleaning systems in place and follow them religiously. Here are some guidelines.
Spell Out Proper Cleaning Procedures
Create a set method of cleaning every area of your facility, using the most effective and efficient cleaning procedures for each job. Go through each procedure and make sure each one is simple enough for the newest team member to perform effectively. Write down all procedures and a daily checklist of tasks, and keep them in a centralized location.
Make Sure Your Staff Is Adequately Trained
Make sure that all cleaning procedures are followed—and followed correctly. Give each new team member detailed instructions and demonstrations on the correct way to operate each piece of equipment in each area of the store. Emphasize proper cleaning procedures and keep daily records of when specific areas were most recently cleaned. In the salmonella outbreak case, these precautions could have been enough to prevent the process of contamination by stopping it before it spread.
Provide the Best Equipment
Arm your cleaning crew with the right tools to help them do their jobs successfully. Dirty buckets and mops with frazzled, filthy heads will never give you a clean floor. You can't prevent major health issues if you're using rags in a bucket of water. If these are your cleaning methods, it's time for an upgrade.
Enable your crew to do a superior job by equipping them with no-touch cleaning tools, which remove soil and contaminants on the spot. Use squeegees for moisture removal on flat surfaces and disinfectant cleaning solutions that are food-safe but effective.
For more information on effective cleaning for disease prevention, click here.