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Amit M. Kheradia
Amit M. Kheradia
Environmental Health and Sanitation Manager

Essentials of Drain Sanitation for Food Production Facilities

Drains can present specific challenges to the overall sanitation efforts within food sites. A UK-funded study conducted by CampdenBRI revealed that at least 25% of samples taken from drains in the high-risk ready-to-eat food production areas tested positive for L. monocytogenes. Drains can act as collection and harborage points for contaminants such as microbial pathogens and biofilms. From drains, these contaminants can grow and spread to other areas of the facilities and eventually reach food products.

Furthermore, unhygienic and dirty drains may create pest problems in a facility. They can also become clogged and build a pool of contaminants and water, which can be a health and safety hazard. Good drain design, regular cleaning and disinfection, and maintenance of drains are crucial for better sanitation.

The designs of drains can greatly determine how they should be cleaned. Two of the most common types are trench and pot drains.


Best Practices for Cleaning Trench Drains

  1. Ensure sanitation resources are adequate: Make sure employees are aware of the key principles of sanitation, are trained and competent, and have the right PPE, cleaning tools, chemicals, and other aids to properly clean drains. Ensure correct signage is in place to caution others on the site floor while sanitation tasks are carried out.

  2. Conduct the preliminary preparations: Inspect the drains, remove the drain covers, and place them on one side. Remove large debris from the drain gullies and place them in a dedicated container. Various pre-cleaning tools may be used, such as:
    - Dustpans and brooms to remove loose dry debris around the drains.
    - Scrapers for removing stubborn, stuck-on debris.
    - Squeegees to remove water pools around the drain.
    Rinse the remaining dirt and soil from the drain covers and the gullies using low-pressure potable water.

  3. Scrubbing and deep cleaning: Drain covers are mechanically or manually cleaned using appropriate tool brushes, detergent, and water. Make sure the temperature, mechanical action, chemical strength, and time are enough to clean the surfaces and remove dirt and bacteria. A long-handled drain cleaning brush can be used to clean the internal surfaces and the edges of the gullies.

  4. Final rinsing and inspection: Rinse cleaning tools, drain covers, and the gullies once the task is completed using low-pressure potable water. Inspect the surfaces for cleanliness. Put the drain covers back and squeegee any excess water into the drain.

  5. Disinfect the drain: Apply disinfectant to the drain according to the manufacturer's instructions for the appropriate concentration/contact time. Squeegee away any excess liquids as needed.

Best Practices for Cleaning Pot Drains

Using adequate sanitation resources (as mentioned above), remove gross debris and rinse the cover with low-pressure water. Remove the drain cover and foul air trap and soak them in a detergent bath according to the manufacturer's instructions.

After a glove change, debris should be removed from the drain itself. It should then be rinsed with low-pressure potable water to remove any other dirt. Then, workers should scrub and deep clean the drain using manual cleaning tools like pipe and tube brushes. After that, a final rinse, inspection, and disinfection of all the surfaces and disassembled parts should happen before reassembly. Once the trap and cover are replaced, they should be rinsed with low-pressure clean water and then disinfected. Any excess liquid should be removed using a squeegee.


General Drain Cleaning Tips

Dirty drains within the food processing zone or near food equipment are the priority when creating a cleaning schedule, as they may contaminate food products. Because drain cleaning tools will be in an area where food-contact tools are, they should preferably be color-coded to prevent cross-contamination. Tools can be of any identifiable color since there is no set standard, but we recommend black for drain tools.

Drain tools must also be stored separately. We recommend color-coded shadow boards or wall brackets. Note that the drain tools must be appropriately cleaned, disinfected, dried after use, and stored at a designated location.

We suggest that sites have a strong program for managing drain and floor tools. This program should include selecting, using, and maintaining the tools, such as cleaning, inspecting, replacing, and storing them.

Drain tools ideally have the following features:

  1. Are of durable construction with stiff bristles

  2. Are heat and chemical-resistant and able to withstand stresses during use (if higher water temperatures and harsher chemicals are used)

  3. Are preferably one piece and/or are hygienically designed

  4. Are ergonomic and easy to use by employees (including their handle length, grip, and weight)

When in doubt, remember that not all drains are created equally, and the drain manufacturer’s instructions could be a good reference point to use when developing your drain sanitation program.

Remco and Vikan provide a wide range of drain tools and solutions that have been successfully used within food facilities and in areas where hygiene is critical. For more information, visit our website.


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