Food Handling Utensils as Pieces in the Food Safety Puzzle
Food handling utensils like buckets, scoops, scrapers, and shovels play an essential role in food processing environments. As food contact surfaces themselves, food handling utensils should possess characteristics that enhance food safety rather than create additional risks. Colour coding, total-colour construction, and hygienic design are features that make Vikan’s material handling tools fit-for-purpose.
For example, green tools can be used for raw ingredients while blue tools are used for finished products. Because many material handling tools are small and easily portable, it’s important to have a visual signifier of which process step each tool belongs to. Alternative colours like pink or lime can be used to signify the presence of allergens.
When using colour coding on food handling utensils, it’s important to consider using tools that are total-colour. This makes it easier to identify the colour for hygienic zoning reasons, and also makes it easier to spot the tool itself.
Colour Coding Guide
Hygienic Design and Regulatory Compliance
Hygienic design makes tools easier to clean and safer for use in the food production industry.
The European Hygienic Engineering Design Group (EHEDG) principles state:
- Tools shouldn’t have areas where contamination can become trapped or areas that are difficult to clean or dry.
- Tools should have a one-piece construction or be easy to take apart and reassemble for cleaning.
- Surfaces should be smooth and non-porous.
- Tools should be well made and durable.
- Materials should be non-tainting and be food-contact compliant.
The same principles used to develop Vikan’s top-of-the-line cleaning tools have been employed in designing its food handling utensils. Smooth contours make up our measuring jugs and scoops instead of sharp internal angles that leave hard-to-clean corners. This, combined with fully-moulded construction and smooth surface finishes, makes our food handling tools easier to clean.
Vikan’s food handling utensils are made from nylon and/or polypropylene, depending on the tool and its intended use. These two plastics are durable, safe for food contact, and are able to withstand temperatures of up to 175° and 100° Celsius respectively. Both nylon and polypropylene tools can also be cleaned in industrial dishwashers and autoclaves.
Declarations of compliance are readily available on Vikan’s website according to Regulation (EU) No 10/2011. The declarations of compliance for each tool show that the materials used in their construction are suitable for food contact.
Common Food handling utensils
Every tool or utensil that touches food products should be food contact compliant and ideally colour coded and hygienically designed. However, special attention must be paid to tools that come into frequent contact with products during different processing stages to help minimise the chances of cross-contamination or allergen cross-contact. Below are three such products that require extra care.
1. Food Hoes
These tools come into direct contact with food and can be used at every stage of production, from pushing, pulling, and scraping raw materials to moving finished products. Food hoes should be made of durable materials so they don’t break when faced with piles of heavy product. They should be a different colour than the food product, but still correspond with the rest of the facility’s colour coding plan.
2. Measuring Jugs
Measuring jugs are often used for handling a variety of raw ingredients before they are mixed together and processed. They should be colour coded to prevent allergen cross-contact or cross-contamination from raw products to finished.
Like measuring jugs, scoops are used both before and after processing. Because they are so easily carried from one station to the next, the likelihood of mixing up which scoops goes with which process step is an argument in itself for colour coding of these tools. They should also be hygienically designed for ease of cleaning.
Just as food safety is a concern plant-wide, colour coding and using hygienic tools should be a full facility effort. When used with food handling utensils, it can help minimise the risk of cross-contamination or allergen cross-contact, leading to better food safety.
Stine Lønnerup Bislev - Hygiene and Compliance Manager
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