The food and beverage industry is understandably one of the most meticulous and sensitive in the United States. The industry provides products that are consumed by millions of people within the country (and, indeed, across the globe), which means that potential contamination can have serious consequences. It’s crucial that food processing plants are kept as clean and secure as possible, while also being safe for employees to work efficiently within.
One of the main components of food processing plant design is flooring. Flooring must be easy to clean in a timely manner, as well as safe for employees to work on over a long period of time. Flooring types that become slippery more easily than others would not be good options for the food and beverage industry. But there is a whole host of factors for those within the industry to consider when preparing or replacing floors within plants. Below are some of the considerations to make when plotting out commercial flooring solutions within the food and beverage industry.
1. Work With a Consultant
Fortunately, there are ways through which businesses can make the process of selecting flooring simpler. Food processing plant design consultants are professionally trained and equipped to ensure that clients choose flooring that will accommodate their specific needs, while also complying with rules and regulations within the industry. Design consultants can answer questions, while also assisting in the drawing up of plans that will lay out the structures of the plant. These consultants can be used during the initial construction of a new plant or the redesign and renovation of an existing plant. It’s highly advised that food processing businesses work with such consultants before committing to any plans.
2. Consider Multiple Flooring Types
There are different options within the food and beverage industry regarding flooring types for plants. There is not a single flooring type that all plants must possess. In the past, flooring types like granite, tile, and linoleum were used within commercial facilities. However, the expense of marble and granite has made them less attainable for some companies. Furthermore, both those flooring types and linoleum have structural weaknesses that make them less than ideal. Concrete is both durable and strong, withstanding great pressures without breaking. This means that polished concrete flooring has become a popular alternative to marble, granite, and linoleum, as well as the easily-damaged tile.
3. Choose a Coating
Typically, it’s advised that the floors of food processing plants are coated. Coatings make them easier to clean and walk across and reduce the risks of cracks. Cracks should be avoided, as they can expand to cause greater damage, create tripping hazards for employees, and provide spots for bacteria to develop and collect. Epoxy coatings are popular within the food and beverage industry, as they have been approved by the USDA and FDA. They’re quick-drying and are excellent for plants that deal with sensitive chemicals, as well as intense heat. Methyl Methacrylate, or MMA, is another popular coating as it is virtually odorless and can withstand extreme temperatures without sustaining damage. This is often favored within the beverage industry as plants frequently chill food and beverage products — a practice that can sometimes cause cracks within uncoated floors. Polyurea coatings are favored in particular by processing plants that deal with meat, as they are flexible and possess antibacterial properties. Another benefit of these coatings is that they are low in volatile organic compounds, and are therefore less likely to cause toxicity within foods.
4. Consider Adding Drains
One of the easiest ways to ensure that flooring can be kept clean efficiently is to add a drain to the floor. This way, a floor can be washed with high-pressure hoses and liquids will simply wash down the drain. Furthermore, excessive fluids produced during processing can be done away with it much more quickly. This cuts down on work time and ensures that floors will be more sanitary.
Again, much must be considered regarding flooring within the food and beverage industry. It’s not enough for floors to be durable. They must also be resistant to bacteria and easy to clean in order to ensure the safety of food products.