Food safety is of primary importance throughout the farm-to-market-to-table process. Without continual vigilance, facilities risk an outbreak of pathogen growth at the facility and foodborne illness among consumers– the scenarios of managers’ nightmares. Processors and food manufacturers operate under strict protocols in order to maintain the safest environments possible, and the right cementitious urethane (urethane mortar) or epoxy flooring can help.
FloroCrete is perfect for this seafood processing floor, skillfully installed by New England Floor & Wall of MA.
Because safety is must be carefully monitored at every step of food production, agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) impose stringent regulations governing the conditions in facilities that process foods and beverages. Best practices for proper sanitation of equipment, safe food handling techniques and workers’ personal hygiene routines are among agencies’ recommendations and mandates. Also included are guidelines for safe food facility construction, including the selection and installation of appropriate food processing flooring.
Important Considerations for Food Safe Flooring
The document entitled, “Sanitation Performance Standards Compliance Guide”, issued by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), publishes a number of directives regarding appropriate floor coverings in food plants. While food facility flooring is intended to have only occasional, incidental contact with foodstuffs and is classified as a Non-Food Contact Surface (NFCS), it is nevertheless critical to facility sanitation. The USDA strongly recommends that NFCSs, such as floor surfaces, floor drains and the like, get regularly sampled and tested for microorganism growth. Left undetected, pathogenic microbes can flourish, eventually jeopardizing the safety of the food, facility employees and the consuming public.
Fluid-applied resinous flooring systems, such as cementitious urethane floors, are optimal for many food and beverage companies, due to their ability to stand up to the industry’s extreme environments. Important factors to consider in a flooring system for a facility that processes food include:
- Any breach in a floor’s surface, whether a crack or grout line, is an invitation for dirt and moisture to gather, and for mold and other microbes to flourish and proliferate. Because cementitious urethane, epoxy and other resinous flooring systems are installed while in their liquid form, they provide a virtually seamless surface, enabling easier cleaning and sanitation of the floor. In addition, resinous system installations allow for the creation or correction of the floor’s slope toward the drain, and can include an integral floor-to-wall cove base. This eliminates ninety degree angles in the floor-wall structure, in support of more efficient cleaning and overall facility hygiene.
- Durability & Performance. Food plants employ heavy machinery and equipment to process huge quantities of raw ingredients every day: the flooring system must possess the compressive strength to hold up under loaded hand carts and forklifts. Add to that the high impact, constant foot traffic, highly acidic and/or alkaline byproducts of food production, and you have a climate that can easily wear down a subpar flooring system. In contrast, cementitious urethane flooring is designed to easily handle the corrosive environments in food and beverage environments.
- Thermal Shock Resistance. Various stages of food and beverage production and storage involve extreme temperature swings–not every flooring system can withstand these conditions. Cementitious urethane floors are specially formulated to perform in situations that would cause irreparable damage to most other types of floor coverings. Possessing a portland cement component, urethane mortar flooring expands and contracts at rates similar to the concrete underneath it, allowing for good bond and ongoing performance under drastic and rapid changes in temperature.
- Moisture Tolerance. Ongoing exposure to moisture can cause deterioration of standard commercial flooring. Plus, most materials cannot be installed over a damp concrete substrate. In contrast, cementitious urethane floor systems are highly moisture tolerant. They are designed for installation over concrete slabs in food and beverage plants, the majority of which almost never get a chance to truly dry out. In addition, urethane mortar can be subjected to water, steam and moisture on a daily basis without sustaining damage.
- Slip Resistance. Despite the food industry’s need for a smooth, ultra-hygienic floor surface, slip-and-fall events are a serious concern for every facility. Epoxy, cementitious urethane and other resinous flooring systems offer customizable slip-resistance options that balance pedestrian safety with easy cleaning. Ask about the various skid-inhibiting finishes that can help keep employees, vendors, and visitors safe.
For a better understanding of Florock’s many USDA-compliant offerings, and the ways in which epoxy and resinous flooring is right for your food or beverage processing facility, contact us today.