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.

Flooring meets strict food code requirements

Rydges Hotels and Resorts is a hotel accommodation and hospitality provider that operates in Australia, New Zealand and England.

Rydges accommodates one million guests annually across a range of market segments. It provides mid to upscale accommodation, catering from corporate travellers to sophisticated upmarket resorts.

Roxset Health and Safety Flooring, a specialist in food and beverage coating solutions for over 30 years, has been providing tailored HACCP Grade VOC non-toxic flooring to a number of key Rydges properties in Australia since 2008. Currently, five properties have been upgraded with the Roxset SE ultra-hygienic coating in food and beverage preparation and associated areas.

Due to the age of some of the properties, the main kitchens were suffering from maintenance challenges, specifically as the traditional kitchen floors were installed with either large ceramic tiles or vinyl coatings. These coverings present on-going problems with grout cleaning and water penetration through progressive cracking, which led to serious hygiene and slip hazards and would not meet the hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) food safe requirements.

Australia is governed by a Food Standards Code. A new code came into effect on 1 March 2016. HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards. A hazard is anything that could make food dangerous to eat and can be, microbiological (e.g. bacteria, virus, fungi) chemical (e.g cleaning products), physical (e.g broken glass, fingernail, hair).

Food safety legislation has specific requirements for food preparation areas relating to the condition and design and includes:
• Floors – should be constructed of a material that is easy to clean and safe to walk on and maintained in sound condition.
• Walls – should be made of durable materials that are washable, non-toxic, easy to clean and maintain.

Over time, Roxset has been upgrading the Rydges Hotel group kitchens by either replacing the vinyl or laying a high-grade seamless epoxy HACCP food grade system over non-drummy tiles. The benefit of epoxy is that when the resin and hardener are mixed together they form a rigid plastic material. This material is strong, durable, resistant and bonds to most base layers. The epoxy is so strong it is used in heavy traffic areas such as industrial environments.

The Roxset SE 3 trowel-on coating is a tailored food grade system which addresses coving, wall intersections and levelling, and falls to drains to ensure rapid cleaning regimes are optimised, especially in busy hotel kitchens.

Roxset SE is a tailored, hand-built protection coating built up with selected aggregates to allow a cure thickness of 4-6mm and has a R12 slip rating.

Roxset recently completed a 380sqm area at the Rydges Hotel in Parramatta, which included the main kitchen, cool rooms, passageway and bar area. These areas are now protected from slippage and any impact or chemical spills and will perform well in excess of 10 years, while meeting all requirements of HACCP’s strict hygiene criteria.