Proper use of chemicals and maintaining effective cleaning and sanitation program is critical for minimizing the potential for contamination.
Implementation of the following recommendations regarding chemical handling and employee training are critical to minimizing issues associated with chemical use:
- Those employees designated to handle hazardous materials must be trained in proper handling. Each employee should sign a certificate after he or she has been properly trained.
- Chemicals must be stored away from almond processing areas so as not to contaminate almonds, almond contact surfaces or almond packaging materials.
- All chemicals must be properly labeled and packaged.
- Procedures and controls should be established for the securing, checkout and return of chemicals to avoid unauthorized use.
- Workers authorized to apply chemicals shall receive appropriate training in the use, storage, documentation and disposal of these chemicals.
- The plant should maintain an inventory and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals used in the facility.
- Chemical control procedures should be developed that outline procedures for listing all chemicals used in the facility; the handling, storage and labeling of chemicals; procedures for distribution and control of chemicals; procedures for ensuring MSDSs are maintained and are current; procedures for ensuring that cleaners, sanitizers and lubricants have documentation that guarantees approved regulatory status; and procedures for disposition of empty chemical containers or waste chemicals.
- Cleaning and sanitizing agents shall meet appropriate regulations and documentation shall be obtained from suppliers verifying this.
- Chemicals that may contact almonds or almond contact surfaces (such as lubricants) must be food grade.
- Disposal of empty containers or waste must conform to local and state regulations for the particular chemical.
- Manufacturers’ recommendations for use of chemicals used in or around food contact areas should be adhered to.
- Records should be kept detailing chemical usage, including date of application, location, dosage rate, purpose, etc.
Cleaning and sanitation
The following general practices should be implemented when appropriate to maintain an effective cleaning and sanitation program:
- Establish a plant sanitation program that includes employee training for cleaning plant equipment, the facility and utensils. Records of training should be maintained.
- All almond contact surfaces, including utensils and almond contact surfaces of equipment, shall be cleaned and sanitized as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination.
- General cleaning and sanitation procedures for equipment. Research has indicated that wet cleaning can lead to increased levels of pathogens in the plant environment if the equipment is not thoroughly dried before reuse. It is not recommended that wet cleaning be conducted unless the equipment can be completely dried before reuse.
- Almond contact utensils and processing tools should be cleaned and sanitized daily using a food grade sanitizer.
- A master sanitation schedule and recordkeeping log should be developed for the facility that lists the frequency of cleaning for all equipment, surfaces, utensils and infrastructure.
- Develop written procedures that detail all steps in cleaning, including chemicals used, contact time, temperatures, and who conducts cleanup.
- Effectiveness of cleaning should be verified by visual inspection or by other means, such as environmental testing with swabs and/or bioluminescence testing. Verification of cleaning should be done at an interval that ensures that cleaning is effective and consistent and a record should be kept. If verification results in an unacceptable condition, items should be re-cleaned or changes made in the cleaning procedures.
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