Color Coding in Your Facility
Hazards in the workplace can be an everyday occurrence, especially when working in food processing facilities. It’s not only important, but necessary, to properly communicate to those around you when hazardous material is present or cross-contamination is at risk. Sometimes it isn’t enough to display helpful flyers and posters; when you’re working in the moment, you need to know if you’re dealing with items that are potentially dangerous.
Working in food processing proves to be no easy feat; not only are you responsible for knowing how to prepare food for customers in regulation with codes and guidelines, it has to be good, too! CDC studies find that foodborne illnesses impact 1 in 6 people, roughly 48 million people each year. HACCP, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, is a system endorsed by the FDA to attempt to monitor and control risks in food production facilities. One of the key parts of implementing HACCP practices into your building is color-coding. Colors go beyond language so anyone working with the tools will be able to know their use.
When working with food products, allergens are always something serious to consider. When preparing your workstation, consider the food items you’ll be working with and what tools you’ll need to differentiate between. Things like scoops, plastic sorting containers, lids, and buckets are all items that can benefit from a color-coded system. Assign color values to the different food items you’re working with such as red signifying wheat, yellow is corn, blue is soy, etc. By creating a clear system that everyone involved can see and follow, you are greatly reducing the risk of cross-contamination in your work.
Color coding isn’t just beneficial in the kitchen, but in your cleaning practices, too. No customer wants to be eating off of a table that was cleaned with the same cloth as the bathroom. These practices aren’t just unhygienic, but can be dangerous as well. Setting up a similar color-coded key can easily be done wherever you store your cleaning supplies. Give each area of the building a color: red is for food processing areas, blue is for the restrooms, green is for offices, etc. Items such as mops, brooms, buckets, squeegees, sponges, and cloths should all be separated by color to ensure their use in the appropriate areas.
Following a color-coded system shows not just inspectors that you are taking the time to differentiate your tools, but shows everyone who enters your facility that you are putting forth the effort to protect those you’re serving, too. Applying these systems to assist with both allergen and sanitation control can help not only alleviate the workload of the employees, but also improve the quality of work they’re doing.