Global Food Safety Initiative scheme audit requirements regarding cleaning tool and utensil selection and maintenance – a review

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D.L. Smith


GFSI, standards, compliance, guidance


Food industry cleaning tools and utensils have long been identified as a major source and vector of cross-contamination. UK Government funded study data, used to establish food industry guidance on microbiological sampling, showed that 47% of cleaning tools tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. In 2017, Schäfer determined that 67% of equipment and utensils used in a poultry processing plant were contaminated with L. monocytogenes, even after cleaning. Despite this cleaning tools and utensils are rarely considered in relation to food safety. Fortunately, Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) approved food safety schemes, including those operated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the International Standards Organisation (ISO (FSSC 22000)) and Safe Quality Food (SQF), now each draw attention to them specifically. This review summarises information on the requirements of GFSI approved food safety schemes operated by BRC, FSSC 22000, SQF and International Featured Standards (IFS), regarding cleaning tool and utensil selection and maintenance. It focuses particularly on requirements for hygienic design; materials of construction; and the development of cleaning and maintenance schedules, and offers expert guidance on how to comply with these. BRCv8: Section 4.11.6; ISO/TS 22000-1-2009: Section 11.2, 11.3, and 11.5; and SQF 8th ed.: Sections and all provide specific information relating to the selection and maintenance of cleaning tools and utensils. IFS v6.1 offers no specific guidance but Part 2, Sections 4.10.1 and 4.10.6 refer to cleaning and disinfection based on risk assessment, and cleaning utensils, respectively. The use of cleaning tools and utensils is ubiquitous in the food industry. Given their proven role as a major source and vector of contamination, and the GFSI Standard Scheme requirements, sharing knowledge of ways in which they can be controlled e.g. through hygienic design and maintenance, is essential in order to promote food safety and aid audit compliance.

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