Putting the best floor forward

The word “hygiene” is critical in the meat processing industry; mandatory Hazard Analysis and Critical Control point (HACCP) controls were introduced into meat abattoirs in 1996, these requirements are set out in the New South Wales Meat Food Safety Schedule, which the Food Authority and abattoirs jointly manage. Plants are subject to fines, and even plant shut downs for failure to comply with regulations. It is critical that facilities that deal with meat deigned for human consumption not only keep up to these standards but also make sure that everything is in top condition throughout the whole meat processing process.

Meat processing facilities provide some the most challenging and harsh environments for concrete flooring, which are subject to significant thermal recycling.

Key considerations are:
1) cleanable – constant high-pressure washing;
2) chemical resistance – a range of chemicals and PH variations;
3) high compressive strength – flexibility to handle heavy loadsand abrasion; and
4) hygienic conditions – cannot contribute to growth of bacteria, mould or mildew.
Challenging issues for plant floors

Ambient Conditions
The ambient conditions in a meat processing plant are at two ends off the extreme. The “clean” sides of meat processing plants are generally cool during production, while the “dirty” sides are generally warm. Most areas on both sides are constantly wet or immersed in water or water slurries of animal waste, animal blood, fat and other by products. Further processing areas include cooking operations and/or cryogenic processes that can subject flooring to major temperature variations. Cleaning and sanitation operations can also subject the floor to thermal cycling.

Chemical exposure
Strong alkaline cleaners are used in most meat processing plants due to their effectiveness on grease, oil and organic matter. Some plants use live steam to clean and degrease, which can subject the floor to thermal shock and spalling of concrete – this can be costly for the processor.

Animal fat, sugar, vegetable oil, animal and vegetable proteins, wheat gluten, and countless other foods and flood additives will attack exposed concrete due to their acidic nature. These acidic compounds react with the alkaline cement paste, which is a binder for the concrete. This weakens the concrete and makes it more susceptible to damage from impact, abrasion, thermal cycling and further chemical attack. Over time, all these inputs can lead to degradation of the concrete.

Anti-slip requirements
Another consideration is that meat processing floors present constant slip hazards for process workers. They are almost always wet or damp, and combined with animal fats and/or oils, can compromise the safety of the working environment. Plant personnel must have a secure footing, particularly when working around hazardous equipment and/or heavy moving loads.

The floor topping must provide the required anti-slip properties in order to prevent slip and fall accidents. Processing floors are also subject to heavy forklift and pallet-jack traffic. Most damage occurs near isolation joints, construction joints and similar cross-sections of the floor. Heavy traffic will also degrade non-slip performance of a floor system over time due to wearing.

Roxset HACCP Flooring Systems offers a whole range of solutions that can address these issues and has the best coatings to handle all the complex and harsh challenges of dairy and meat processing plants. The specially formulated resin system offers a fast-cure, moisture-tolerant solution with no strong odours or flammability hazards. To top it is all off, these solutions can withstand organic acids and common cleaning and sanitation chemicals.