The term food-safe flooring is not defined in the Food Safe Standards, nor is there any certificate that can be obtained for it. It is a phrase used by companies that offer flooring solutions designed for the food and beverage manufacturing industry.
So what is a flooring solution designed for this industry? We’ve defined what a food-safe floor means in our terms:
A food-safe floor is one that is sealed, prevents bacteria growth, is easily cleaned, and can stand up to external stresses, such as heavy foot and forklift traffic, thermal shock, chemicals and acids.
Food Premises & Equipment Standard 3.2.3 outlines that floors do not need to be sanitised, as food is not being prepared on that surface. However, it is very important they are effectively cleaned. Some methods of cleaning involve high pressure hosing, which can bring any bacteria growing on the floor to being airborne, a threat to food and machinery around.
As defined above, there are certain factors to look for that determine a food-safe floor:
- Sealed Floor: one that protects a porous surface (like concrete), and eliminates cracks and crevasses for bacteria to grow and thrive in. Both epoxy and polyurethane cement solutions provide a sealed floor.
- Moisture Tolerance: flooring in food manufacturing facilities are exposed to a range of food by-products, which can potentially deteriorate the floor if the incorrect solution has been installed. This can then lead to exposed concrete, increasing the risk of bacteria growth.
- Durability & Performance: Food processing factories use heavy equipment and machinery to process huge quantities of raw materials, that the floor must stand up to, and not crack under the pressure. Additionally, many food manufacturing facilities have heavy volumes of foot and forklift traffic that the floor must stand up to, and not wear down.
- Chemical & Acid Resistance: With the broad range of chemicals and acids found in food manufacturing facilities, it is highly important that the floor will stand up to them. Not all flooring solutions have resistance to this wide range of chemicals and acids, leading to them corroding and exposing the concrete substrate.
- Thermal Resistance: Extreme temperature swings are common in food manufacturing facilities, from a production floor being washed down with hot water, to a blast chiller hitting -20*C in just minutes. When this happens, concrete contracts, bringing the floor with it. If the floor cannot contract at the same pace as the concrete, it will crack and fail. As outlined in this article, polyurethane cement flooring solutions are the best in these scenarios, as they have greater flexibility, and expand and contract at a rate very close to concrete.
Ultimately, there is no generic definition for a food-safe floor. It depends on the area in focus, and if the floor will stand up to the various conditions in that particular area. For example, a commercial bakery is likely to have less acids being spilt on the floor in comparison to a confectionary manufacturer. So while a commercial bakery may require a unique solution to stand up to oils, it does not need to have high acid resistance.
Learn about what flooring solution is right for your area here.