How equipment maintenance affects food safety

In food and beverage facilities, safety and sanitation are especially important. But with so many people, pieces of equipment and processes at play, it doesn’t take much to introduce a contaminant to this sensitive environment.

Equipment made of materials like metal, plastic or rubber, for example, may require lubricants and paint. Excess lubricant or old, flaking paint can easily fall onto a food production line and render the product unsuitable for consumption. Additionally, as equipment ages, it can rust or lose its ability to stay in a safe temperature range. In some cases, changes in the way a certain piece of equipment operates can compromise food products, such as when bacteria grows in chilled food that is accidentally left in a warm room or truck.

Planned equipment maintenance requirements

While equipment maintenance has always been smart for any manufacturing facility (food-related or otherwise), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now lists lack of preventive maintenance in its top risk problems for Current Good Manufacturing Practices.

For facilities that don’t engage in preventive maintenance, the FDA recommends taking these steps:

  1. Assign accountability: Decide who will be in charge of maintenance. This can be a specific person, department or an outside partner.
  2. Define expectations: Clearly define the role, then list benchmarks.
  3. Specify equipment: All equipment should be maintained regularly, but when just starting out, determine which assets pose the greatest risk to the food products.
  4. Create a plan: Be sure all maintenance activities are documented. Work to determine a schedule for when certain assets should be inspected.
  5. Schedule audits: Reviewing your work and adjusting your plan will help your company improve in time. Keep a warehouse food safety audit checklist to help.

When your company works toward greater food control processes as a whole, you may see improvements in your facilities.

Critical equipment to keep maintained

All equipment in your facility should be regularly inspected and repaired as needed. But for companies that have traditionally followed a run-to-fail strategy, taking on a comprehensive planned maintenance schedule can be challenging. Miner can evaluate your assets, then build and implement your planned maintenance strategy, making the whole process easier and helping ensure the strategy  benefits your facility.

Choosing which equipment is the most critical to maintain helps determine which assets should be prioritized. Here are a few types of equipment to consider:

1. Equipment that comes in contact with food products

If equipment that touches food items is contaminated, you can’t be sure the food itself is safe to eat. Make sure all equipment that comes in contact with food is maintained and sanitary. Miner can service the following kitchen equipment and more:

  • Charbroilers.
  • Convection ovens.
  • Conveyors.
  • Proofers.
  • Steam tables.
  • Heated wells.
  • Kettles.

2. Equipment that keeps food products at the right temperature

Temperature plays a big role in food safety. Frozen foods must never thaw before they reach the consumer. Doing so prevents the risk of foodborne bacteria from growing. Miner has experience servicing the following:

  • Walk-in freezers and refrigerators.
  • Blast chillers and freezers.
  • Coolers.

3. Equipment that moves food products along the supply chain

As food moves throughout the supply chain, it will leave facilities and enter trucks, then be loaded into new facilities. Food should not be at risk of contamination at any point in this process. One major area of potential contaminants is the loading dock. As forklifts move in and out of trailer beds, and dock doors are opened and closed, there are risks of pollen, dirt, bugs and other problematic substances affecting the quality of the food. Keeping a tight barrier between the building and the trailer can prevent food safety concerns. Miner knows docks inside and out:

  • Dock seals.
  • Dock shelters.
  • Vertical dock levelers.
  • Warehouse fans.

Is your food and beverage facility the best it can be? If you’re concerned about potential food safety problems at your location, reach out to Miner. We can help create a maintenance schedule that keeps your equipment in good condition.