Contamination Control in the Food Industry


In recent years, thanks to a better understanding of the dangers of contamination and how to detect and prevent it, the food industry has become the latest to adopt and implement cleanrooms and contamination control measures. Since contamination can occur at various stages of the food production process, from harvesting to processing, packaging, transportation, and storage – there are several widely accepted methods for controlling contamination in the food industry. Let’s take a look at some of the top ones.

Common Methods for Controlling Contamination in the Food Industry

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs): These are procedures that ensure safe and consistent food production by minimizing the risks of contamination. GMPs cover a wide range of activities, from employee hygiene and sanitation practices to equipment cleaning and maintenance.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): This is a systematic approach to identifying and controlling hazards that could cause foodborne illness. HACCP involves identifying critical control points in the production process and implementing procedures to control those points.

Sanitation: Effective sanitation practices are essential for preventing contamination in food production facilities. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and utensils. Using the proper cleaning equipment such as low linting wipes, microfiber mopping systems, and the correct disinfectants should be incorporated into any sanitation schedule.

Employee Training: Proper training is important for all employees who patriate in any stage of the food production process – especially those who work in food manufacturing facilities. Typical training programs include hygiene and sanitation practices, as well as procedures for handling and storing food safely.

Pest Control: Pests such as rodents, insects, and birds can carry and spread disease-causing microorganisms. Effective pest control measures, such as using traps, baits, and insecticides, are necessary to prevent contamination.

Food Packaging: Proper packaging can prevent contamination by providing a barrier between the food and the environment. Packaging materials should be clean, durable, and able to withstand the rigors of transportation and storage.

Temperature Control: Maintaining the correct temperature is critical for preventing the growth of harmful microorganisms. This includes proper storage temperatures for both raw materials and finished products, as well as appropriate cooking temperatures for food.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Items such as powder-free gloves, bouffant caps, and gowns are essential to prevent contamination.

Environmental control: External environmental factors such as contaminated water sources or areas near the production facility that are emitting toxic or polluted air should be identified. Production should not be carried out in areas where the presence of contaminants would lead to an unacceptable level of such contaminants in food.

More recommendations can be found here.

Overall, controlling contamination in the food industry requires a comprehensive approach that involves multiple strategies and ongoing monitoring and testing to ensure that food products are safe for consumption.

The Use of Cleanrooms in the Food Industry

Cleanrooms and controlled environments are being used in the food industry to reduce contamination during the food production process by minimizing the number of airborne particles, microbes, and other contaminants that can enter the manufacturing process. Although they are not required in many circumstances, manufacturers that have implemented controlled environments are seeing the benefits that they bring. The specific type of cleanroom used in food manufacturing depends on the specific product being produced and the level of cleanliness required. Here are some common types of cleanrooms seen in food manufacturing:

ISO 5 Cleanrooms: These are the most stringent cleanrooms and are typically used for aseptic processing of sterile products, such as baby food, dairy products, and other foods that require high levels of cleanliness. ISO 5 cleanrooms have a maximum of 100 particles of 0.5 microns or larger per cubic foot of air.

ISO 7 Cleanrooms: These are less stringent than ISO 5 cleanrooms and are typically used for the production of non-sterile foods, such as baked goods, snacks, and confectionery products. ISO 7 cleanrooms have a maximum of 10,000 particles of 0.5 microns or larger per cubic foot of air.

Modular Cleanrooms: These are self-contained cleanrooms that can be easily installed and adapted to different production processes. Modular cleanrooms are often used for small-scale food production, such as specialty products, and are available in a range of ISO classifications.

Clean Air Enclosures: These are smaller enclosures used to protect specific areas of a food production facility, such as packaging or filling lines. Clean air enclosures provide localized control of airborne contaminants and can be used in conjunction with other cleanroom systems.

Overall, the type of cleanroom used in food manufacturing depends on the product being produced, the level of cleanliness required, and the specific needs of the manufacturing process.

If you need help selecting the correct products for your food processing environment, please contact us.