Why do we clean work areas during operations?

During production, fat, meat, blood, water and other materials build up in work areas. It is important to clean the production areas regularly to make sure:

  • the work area is safe, with no scraps to slip on or materials to trip over
  • that scraps and waste do not physically contaminate the product
  • that bacteria do not breed on the floor and work surfaces, living in built-up fat, meat, blood and water.

How are edible, inedible and condemned materials separated in production areas?

There must be separate containers for:

  • edible product
  • pharmaceutical product
  • animal or pet food product
  • condemned product.

The AS4696:2007Australian Standard for the hygienic production and transportation of meat and meat products for human consumption insists that some clear method of identification is used. Export-registered plants must use coloured containers, e.g. white, green, blue, yellow and red, to distinguish the different products.

When cleaning in these areas, you will need to be aware of which chutes, belts or conveyors are used to transport each type of product to its collection point. This will be especially important for your role in removing wastes. For example, rubbish is removed in waste bins, whilst inedible and condemned product is only removed in the bins, trolleys or chutes kept especially for that purpose.

Workplace procedures may also indicate that you need to wear a coloured coat and/or apron, as well as a coloured hat when carrying out cleaning tasks on the production floor. Coloured clothes are often used to identify the floor cleaning staff. These staff do not handle edible product or packaging materials.

What types of wastes are found during production?

Waste materials vary according to the cleaning area. You must remove them according to the specific workplace procedures for each area. They may include solid and liquid materials, such as:

  • wash-down from yards and holding pens
  • condemned animals – their parts or products
  • meat, fat and blood from surfaces in processing areas
  • damaged or used packaging materials
  • materials to be recycled after cleaning, e.g. rollers, tubs and bins.

Waste material is handled in ways that prevent contamination of any products, product containers and packaging materials.

Waste removal

Removing these wastes:

  • maintains a safe, clean work area for production
  • minimises potential food sources for micro-organisms and rodents
  • segregates inedible and condemned materials from the edible products
  • complies with the regulatory requirements

What cleaning procedures are use during production?

A documented cleaning schedule covers the whole food processing establishment. It sets out the Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) for cleaning each area during production, and at the production breaks.

It should give you details about the hourly, daily, weekly or monthly cleaning programs for the production area and any associated areas. These areas may include:

  • by-product processing plant
  • amenities and offices
  • rendering plant
  • roads and surrounds
  • stockyards
  • general and cleaning store rooms.

The cleaning schedule for each worksite will describe the cleaning task.

A combination of dry clean and wet clean procedures is commonly used to clean production areas. This combination will cause minimal disruption to workers and, with due care, the cleaning process should not contaminate products. These steps may be applied more generally at breaks, when run-off has already taken place.

Dry clean

To dry clean:

  • pick up all edible materials from the area and put them into the appropriate bin, chute or conveyor belt for that product
  • squeegee any blood in to the drains and blood lines
  • sweep and shovel up loose materials before hosing, because hosing wastes water and blocks drains if done first
  • hose down those areas where drain covers are in place, only after the solids, e.g. large pieces of meat, fat, paper or used packaging, have been removed to waste collection bins.