Boot Sanitation - Why It Matters?

Health & Safety are crucial in any part of the food industry. Food Hygiene and sanitation are standard at any facility. While it is impossible to pinpoint where exactly an outbreak happened, a proper sanitation program can help prevent it. Safety and sanitation protocols can help control the spread of any harmful pathogens or harmful bacteria in your production line and avoid any incidents or recalls. Those can be costly and open the door for future liabilities. 

Sanitation Boots Soiled with Invisible Microbial Material Visible by UV

Most sanitation programs focus on cleaning and hygiene, all the typical things from washing hands to cleaning equipment and workstations. This may seem like basic common sense, but many programs often overlook footwear or boot sanitation in their regiment. After all, footwear can be a major point of cross-contamination, especially if your team is moving in and out of the facility or around different floors. Contaminants can be dragged in on the soles of shoes, especially if they are worn outside. Organic material, bacteria, or debris can be trapped in the crevasses of footwear if there isn't a designated footwear program which can increase the chances of cross-contamination points.

Incorporating Boot Sanitation into your Existing Program

The easiest way to implement boot sanitation into your existing sanitation program is to understand the traffic flow of your worksite and the entrance points. Employees ideally should have clean and sanitized footwear before ever setting foot on the floor. This can be done by having designated footwear for your staff to use on each floor, especially if different boots are worn in different areas or employees work on multiple floors. There should be a designated changing area for employees to switch footwear and clothing, this would help to prevent outside contaminants to ever come anywhere near your production floor. There should also be designated storage for soiled and cleaned footwear & clothing.

The BLX employee hygiene series by Clean Logix

If outfitting your team with footwear for different workstations isn't an option, you can emphasize proper boot wash before entering and exiting. Foot wash stations should be readily available and accessible for the entire staff. There should be just as big of an emphasis on boot wash as there is on handwashing. Boot wash stations should be placed at high traffic areas and at all the entrance and exit points. The type of boot wash station you'll need for your facility will depend on the nature of the production floor. If moisture isn't an issue, a wet boot wash is a good option. The wet boot wash station will use soaps and scrubbers to remove debris and micro-pathogens. A dry boot wash station is better for facilities that need to control the moisture levels. Dry boot wash stations will use highly evaporative sanitizers like D2 or quat-based formulas that leave no residue as it dries.

 

Tracking Results

Every well-publicized outbreak points to a safety program first. Having inconsistent data tracking is a major red flag and can open the door to liabilities. While you may not be able to control when an outbreak or contamination occurs, you can control how your team responds by logging data and documenting your safety protocols. Tracking and archiving your efforts will make things easier in the long run.

What kind of data are we talking about? There are simple things that you are probably already doing like recording batch numbers or having consistent cleaning schedules and logging every time it happens. You should also document your cleaning and sanitation regiment by including the frequency and the process. Also, any time you conduct employee meetings to emphasize hygiene, you should also document those as well. 

Your sanitation program may start with safety managers but will end with your employees.  Make sure employees are regularly trained on sanitation and hygiene and they know the policies thoroughly. Common contaminants can present major dangers, even in small amounts. Employee education will be one of your strongest defenses against outbreaks and contamination. Make sure your plan is up to date and your employees are well versed in the practice.