Pro Tip: Examining food plant overheads

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Pro Tip: The AIB identifies three harmful conditions that can adversely affect food.

Don’t overlook the ceiling or overhead when it comes to food safety. Here are three issues to consider when inspecting these areas of a food plant.

Condensation occurs when moisture in the air collects on a cold surface. Factors affecting this are sudden changes in weather that affect temperature and humidity within the facility, or an inherently humid facility environment. Condensation can carry pathogens and mold spores onto the product. Locations to check within the facility for this condition include pipes in vapor areas such as roof drains, cooling pipes, metal support beams, and proofers. Insulation and/or airflow can be used to prevent condensation formation.

Roof leaks are another common finding. Even if the leak does not drip directly into the product zone, the water that is washed off the roof carries pathogens that seed the environment. In either case, roof leaks should be fixed immediately.

A third type of common overhead condition is loose material such as flaking paint, flaking rust, and torn insulation on overhead structures. These conditions create a foreign object hazard in the product zone underneath the loose material. If you see flaking paint, flaking insulation, or flaking rust on equipment or other surfaces, always look up to locate and contain the source until repairs can be made.

It is important to remember that food factory conditions can change on a daily basis. Include a bird’s-eye view during pre-startup inspections and monthly self-inspections. This ensures complete control over the overhead product zone.

Senior Peg Ray Manager of AIB International.

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