The risks posed to food manufacturers from something like a failed inspection or poor food-handling hygiene are high. Product recalls and bad press can permanently affect the health of a food manufacturing or processing business. In addition, food manufacturers are subject to intense regulatory scrutiny, plus regular scheduled and unscheduled inspections from health authorities.
Commercial cleaning companies working in this industry need to be up to scratch, not only with the specialised skills required, but also the varying regulatory obligations their clients face in different states. Here are some of the things you should look out for when selecting a commercial cleaner if your business handles food for human consumption.
Specialised Cleaning Services, Skills & Equipment
Consider the specialised needs of food manufacturers, processers and handlers. In the food manufacturing industry, you need more than just a cleaner who attends to spills and other debris. You need a team who is proactive. Your cleaning team should regularly review your facility for faults and hygienic oversights that could impact your food security and compliance with regulations and inspections. This is what differentiates a specialised food manufacturing cleaner from a regular commercial cleaner.
This means regularly cleaning the air-conditioning system, conducting swab and APT testing, and recommending procedures to minimise airborne and cross-contamination. They also need to use chemicals that are safe for use near food designed for human consumption. Ask them what equipment they use – are they using specialised equipment for more effective and time-efficient results, or just standard domestic cleaning equipment?
Think of your commercial cleaning team as an extension of your own staff; they should be there to look out for you.
Trained Professional Cleaners
Some commercial cleaners get a bad reputation for quality and organisation, and often it’s because they cut corners by hiring ineffective staff. Commercial cleaners, and those in the food manufacturing industry especially, need to be trained with a specialised set of skills and become familiar with the facilities they’re cleaning.
This means hiring people dedicated to commercial cleaning, not people who simply see it as a temporary job, or something to hold them over through university. A good commercial cleaning team should be properly trained by industry professionals with standardised methodology. Ideally, those in supervisory and leadership positions should have experience as cleaners themselves to truly understand how to improve their services.
Your cleaning team should not only be dedicated and well trained, but also familiar with your facilities. Is your commercial cleaner always someone different, or someone who is specifically trained and introduced to the ins-and-outs of your facilities? Often, commercial cleaning companies managing large facilities, such as food warehouses, will put in place systems, checklists, reviews and audits designed specifically for that building.
Accreditation and Standards
If you’re looking for some kind of accreditation or benchmark when looking for a cleaner, keep an eye out for a commercial cleaner with ISO9001:2015 accreditation. This demonstrates that the business in question has systems in place to keep up the standards that customers in that industry expect. It might seem pretty basic, but it at least gives you the peace of mind that the cleaner continually follows any regulatory standards and has training mechanisms in place to ensure their staff provide adequate service.
Food Manufacturing Industry Standards:
Specialised standards apply within the food manufacturing industry, and for good reason. One system of standards that businesses within this industry may be familiar with is Codex Alimentarius’ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. The HACCP system identifies hazards specific to the food handling and manufacturing industry and establishes measures that everyone in the production process can take to ensure food safety.
In the food manufacturing industry, such accreditation is vital for any external service providers, but especially the commercial cleaners. It means that the cleaning company should have considered how every aspect of their service, from the cleaning methods through to the chemicals themselves, relates to food safety. Anyone in this industry should seek a cleaner with Codex Alimentarius HACCP accreditation, and ideally dual HACCP and ISO9001 accreditation.