FSMA ACT – What you need to know
About 48 million Americans become ill from contaminated food every year leading to $75 billion in loss to the food and beverage industry. In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law to lower these statistics. This law is the first significant food safety regulations in 70 years. The most notable change is a statute that gives the FDA authority to recall food products and requires frequent inspections at food and beverage facilities. Prior to the passing of this law, the FDA only had authority to ask, but not demand, that foods be recalled. These inspections apply to manufacturing process, procedures, equipment, and infrastructure – including epoxy floor and wall systems. In fact, the frequency of inspections will double over the first 12 months of implementation.
In addition to the FSMA, state and local authorities have their own schedules and changing regulations. One common regulation is the banning of new installation of quarry tile because its mortar joints are a natural incubator for bacteria and other contaminants. Even if polished, chipped and cracked concrete floors intensify this hazard. Concrete acts like a sponge and absorbs moisture deep into its pores where bacteria can propagate.
For food and beverage facilities the only solution to keeping a hygienic plant is to have a seamless flooring system. Depending on the conditions of the plant area, urethane cement, epoxy, or MMA flooring may be appropriate. To learn more about the right type of floor for your facility check out my blog post "What resin flooring options are available for the food and beverage industry?"
So what will inspectors be checking when they check to see if your floor is hygienic? First they will be making sure your floor cannot harbor bacteria. Resinous floors have a topcoat that fills in the pores and imperfections which makes it impervious to moisture. For additional protection, antimicrobial additives can be added in case the topcoat is scratched. These antimicrobial additives can be natural silver ion-based that are mixed into the resin before it is installed. Merely having an antimicrobial additive to the resin does not necessarily mean that it is effective and in some cases they are not independently tested. That is why it is important to get antimicrobial flooring systems directly from the manufacturer instead of using “field manufactured” antimicrobial flooring systems. This coating system prevents microbe growth through the final cured floor coating, not just the antimicrobial additive component.
Effective antimicrobial flooring systems can also be a colloidal product that is sprayed onto the concrete substrate that both densifies and gives it antimicrobial properties. This type of pretreament helps keep the concrete from absorbing chemicals and contamination with the added benefit of making replacement of the floor simpler because there is no need to extract contamination or to sterilize the concrete.
Even with a seamless, antimicrobial flooring system sanitizing operations will still need to regularly occur to eliminate production byproducts and contaminants. To do this radial cove base should be installed to create a seamless transition from the wall to the floor. This prevents standing liquids, contaminants, and pathogens from being able to hide in corners and streamlines cleaning procedures. To learn more about coving check out my blog “Importance of Cove Base in The Food and Beverage Industry.”
Another crucial element of passing inspection is having your floors be sloped to drains. By having adequate sloping to trench drains you can eliminate standing water, that will absolutely catch the eye of an inspector and can lead to a plant shutdown or worse, a Listeria outbreak. It’s imperative that a resinous flooring expert correctly slopes or pitches the floor to about 1-2% grade. If it is under pitched you will end up with standing water, over pitched and you will have solids runoff. Every floor drain should be equipped with a deep seal trap and a check valve should be installed to prevent sewage from backing up and flooding the floor. Drains without a deep seal trap must be regularly washed down. One of the most overlooked sanitation procedures is cleans the trench drains. It is also one of the leading causes of bacteria spreading throughout a facility. To learn more about plant hygiene and preventing a Listeria outbreak check out my blog “Importance of Flooring for Food Processing Plant Hygiene."
Having a seamless, resinous floor is imperative for addressing potential hazards that could affect food safety. A food and beverage facility floor is a crucial part of the environment of the production unit, and it may include significant amounts of pathogenic microorganisms. The best way to pass an inspection is to have an experienced resinous flooring expert install a floor that is impervious to moisture, sloped to drains, durable enough to withstand hard cleaning procedures, and seamless from wall to floor.