Even the best chefs make a mess in the kitchen, and when that’s extended to an industrial food preparation scale, the result can be drips, splashes, and splatters galore. The unique health and safety requirements of the food and drinks industry place high demands on flooring systems in terms of hygiene, chemical tolerance, and bacterial resistance.
What Is Food Safe Flooring?
Food safe flooring has a range of important hygienic properties. Firstly, it must be easy to clean and able to tolerate vigorous cleaning chemicals and high temperatures. Secondly, it has to be impervious, as surfaces with any porosity quickly become hotbeds of bacterial and fungal growth. Finally, the floor needs to be slip-resistant and able to resist abrasions that can cause a range of health and safety hazards. When the flooring in a food preparation area fulfils these criteria, the result is an environment that is both safer and easier to maintain.
1) Anti-Bacterial Protection
Bacteria is a hazard in any environment, but for food and drinks manufacturing, it is the number one challenge. All organic material releases bacteria, which quickly becomes a contaminant, resulting in hundreds of nationwide product recalls. This is a major headache for the industry, with one study identifying 70 different coliforms in the average food processing area. Only three of the coliforms were non-human in origin.
A resin flooring system forms an impervious seal that prevents bacteria from penetrating the floor, it can also incorporate anti-microbial agents such as silver ions. The durability of resin also reduces the risk of cracking and abrasions, which are almost impossible to clean and quickly become hotbeds of bacteria.
2) Chemical Resistance
Whether to safeguard against bacteria, fungi, or viruses, food factories rely on a powerful arsenal of cleaning chemicals. Hypochlorites, quaternary ammonium compounds, and peroxyacetic acid (PAA) are the most common, and all have corrosive qualities. If the wrong choice of food factory flooring is installed, cleaning products will quickly eat into the surface, creating areas for bacteria to flourish. Perhaps more pressingly, for many floors it is not only cleaning chemicals that can erode a floor: acidic food and drink spillages can be equally destructive. As an extremely hard and impervious compound, resin flooring has an impressive chemical resistance profile.
3) Slip Resistance
Food safety isn’t just about creating products that are free from bacteria and germs, employee welfare is equally important. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that in 2020, slipping and tripping remained “the single most common cause of major injury in UK workplaces,” resulting in nearly 800,000 people requiring at least one day off work, and 168,000 requiring more than a week of recovery leave. This is a needless cost to the industry when basic anti-slip flooring could potentially prevent many of these accidents. A slip resistant surface can be created by adding a textured compound to the resin, increasing surface friction and reducing the risk of slippages.
Central Flooring are experienced in creating safe flooring systems for food preparation and manufacturing businesses. For more information about how to maximise your health and safety potential, have a chat with one of our flooring specialists today.