7 Cleaning Strategies to Improve Your Food Safety Quality Management System It should be no secret that you need to control food safety hazards to keep your staff and patrons healthy. Plus, any food business with a significant health outbreak risks significant reputational damage and customer losses. Establishing a clear-cut food safety quality management system is a surefire way to solidify and implement food safety standards. If you don’t already have one, now is the time to start. If you do already have one, there’s always room to enhance it. This article is for you no matter which of those two situations you’re in. We’ll examine what food safety systems are and list 7 cleaning strategies they should include. What is a Food Safety Management System? A food safety management system (FSMS) is a strategic system that a food and beverage business uses to ensure that products are safe for consumption. Any business that handles food should have some form of FSMS in place. That includes bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and logistics companies who deliver products through the food supply chain. High kitchen hygiene standards are necessary to ensure that food is safe. Therefore, cleaning strategies are usually an integral part of a company’s FSMS. How to Implement a Food Safety Management System The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has a 4-part system for their FSMS. Managerial: outlines the roles, responsibilities, and procedures of the organization Technical: solidifies the steps and procedures for ensuring food safety Conformance: assesses adherence and reports those who don’t follow Training: trains all responsible for food safety on the same set of standards The CFIA 4-part system is more so geared towards food inspection officers and CFIA itself. However, everyday organizations can make use of this structure. Consider building a smaller system within your business that’s structured similarly. This will help you establish clear standards and efficiently ensure they’re being followed. To mimic the CFIA, designate your staff as your food safety managers. Establish their responsibilities to uphold safe food practices and determine how they will perform this duty. Anyone who handles food should be listed as someone responsible for safety. Create a written document that clearly outlines your food safety regulations. Then, create a cadence for regular internal inspections to ensure you’re way ahead of external inspectors. This will help you mimic the conformance standard of assessing adherence and reporting missteps. You Can Also Improve Food Safety Management With Software That Detects Possible Food Safety Hazards Learn More 7 Cleaning Strategies That Should Be In Your Food Safety Quality Management System 1. Schedule Deep Cleaning Set specific times, whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, for a thorough deep cleaning. This should cover areas that might not receive daily attention, like behind appliances, inside ovens, and under sinks. Most commercial kitchens should opt for a weekly or bi-weekly routine due to the high volume of food production. It might be helpful to create a checklist for your deep cleaning routine. This way, you can ensure that nothing is overlooked. Over time, you can update the checklist based on what you find works best for your space. 2. Use Colour-Coded Cleaning Tools Use different coloured cloths, mops, and brushes for different areas of your facility. You should also consider colour-coding equipment that touches high-risk raw ingredients, like poultry or seafood. This prevents cross-contamination and ensures that germs from one area don’t spread to another. 3. Use Approved Cleaning Agents Ensure that all cleaning agents used in the kitchen are food-safe. Non-food-safe products can leave chemical residue on utensils or countertops, which can transfer to your food. If you’re not sure, you can check the label on the package. You can also check the ingredients for non-food-safe chemicals. Eco-friendly products are usually better, but they aren’t guaranteed to be food safe. Be mindful that some chemicals are safe for cleaning other areas of your facility, they just shouldn’t be near food. Some ingredients found in cleaning products that are ok for other cleaning tasks, but not food-touch areas include: Formaldehyde 1,4-dioxane Chloroform Quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) Sodium borate (borax) and boric acid Phthalates You should also regularly inspect and replace cleaning products that are past their use-by date (like you would with food). Expired products are less effective and certain chemicals can become hazardous past their expiration date. 4. Sanitize Surfaces Daily All surfaces, especially those that come into direct contact with food, should be sanitized at the end of each day. This includes countertops, cutting boards, and prep stations. Sanitization isn’t as simple as wiping down the surface with a wet, soapy rag. There’s a process to it. See How Software Can Improve Safety Standards A Four-Step Approach to Becoming a Best-in-Class Facility Use Data to Drive Effective Performance and Investment Outcomes Health and Safety Cannot Rely On Guesswork Any Longer Remove any food particles or debris. Use soap and water for this initial cleaning. Treat your surface with a food-safe sanitizing agent. Ensure that the sanitizer remains on the surface for the recommended time before wiping or rinsing off. Rinse or wipe off the sanitizer if necessary. 5. Regular Drain Cleaning Drains can be a hotspot for bacteria and pests. Even if you don’t have an obvious clog, unseen grime could contaminate your dishes as you wash them in your sink. Plus, a dirty drain can produce unpleasant odors, which can permeate throughout your facility and turn off patrons. The process of unclogging a clogged drain also causes operational disruptions in a busy kitchen. So, it’s best to take preventative actions to stop this disruption from ever occurring. It can be as simple as pouring a mix of hot water and vinegar into your drain daily. 6. Regular Refrigerator Cleaning Old food residue can become a breeding ground for bacteria if left unchecked. Additionally, this residue is also not always apparent to the naked eye. For this reason, it’s best to regularly clean and sanitize the insides of refrigerators and freezers even if there’s no visual build-up. 7. Proper Storage Area Organization & Cleaning Ensure dry storage areas are kept tidy and free from dust. Proper organization also allows for better air circulation, which helps keep stored foods at the correct temperature. Another good practice is to organize older items towards the front to ensure they get used before expiration. Another crucial food safety practice is ensuring any spills or leaks in your storage area are wiped up immediately. Standing liquid is a major attractor for bacteria, mold, and pests, which can quickly spread to your stored food. Take Your Food Safety Management System to The Next Level With Technology When it comes to food safety, you can’t rely on guesswork or what you can see with the naked eye. Pathogens and biological residue can be hard to spot, but still dangerous to your patrons’ health and establishment’s reputation. Don’t guess, use technology to confirm your cleanliness. Optisolve Pathfinder™ is a revolutionary tool designed to transform your food safety standards. Using cutting-edge technology, Pathfinder™ captures detailed surface images, generating contamination density maps. This real-time data eliminates the guesswork, ensuring that every inch of your facility meets the highest cleanliness standards. Contact us to add Pathfinder™ to your food safety quality management system. Read More of Our Recent PostsCleaning Verification vs. ValidationQuality Management in the Cleaning IndustryCleaning Validation and Workforce SatisfactionWhat is a Quality Management System (QMS)?