3 Essential Steps to Rediscovering the Forgotten Coast: Safeguarding Facilities in 2024

Jan 02, 2024

Listeria, Cronobacter, Salmonella, and E.coli share a common threat – these pathogens can infiltrate your facility through the overlooked Zones 3 & 4, also known as the Forgotten Coast. These harmful microorganisms primarily enter premises via unregulated traffic originating from roof accesses, entrances, and zone transitions. They may also hitch a ride on raw ingredients and spread throughout your facility through traffic patterns or leaks in your system, contaminating various areas.

During the COVID pandemic, the industry's primary focus was on production. High staff turnover, reduced workforce, and ineffective training programs compelled companies to concentrate primarily on Zones 1 & 2 operations. As a result, Zones 3 & 4 had to be temporarily abandoned to sustain productivity - - coining the term “Forgotten Coast”. With those challenges now behind us and roughly three years to rebuild staff strength and develop effective training programs to manage ongoing turnover, it's time to shift our focus back to Zones 3 & 4.

To enhance the safety of consumers, it is crucial for the industry to address uncontrolled traffic patterns and leakage issues. There are only so many initiatives that can be undertaken each year; let's commit to rediscovering the Forgotten Coast this year. The journey may not always be straightforward, but prioritizing safety over convenience is of paramount importance. The industry has initiated significant safety advances for employee safety, shutting down a process due to employee safety. It is time we did the same for Food Safety!

Below are a few initiatives that can help regain control of these coastal areas:

#1 – Access Traffic Patterns

It's time to re-examine your facility's blueprint and ensure that traffic patterns are well-regulated.

  • Do multiple entrances compromise traffic control? Minimize entrances wherever feasible.
  • Does foot traffic adhere to hygienic zoning guidelines?
  • How effective is forklift management?
  • Are garbage transportation routes managed efficiently?

#2 – Zone Transitions

Are there sufficient zone transitions in place to limit the spread of unwanted microorganisms between zones?

  • Dedicated footwear
  • Proper apparel
  • Footwear/wheeled sanitizer treatment - - Wet – alcohol/quat, quat and/or Dry – Quat or PAA powder (such as Sterilex products)
  • Appropriate PPE cleaning or replacement
  • Hand washing protocols - - Wet or waterless

#3 – Battle against Leaks

Do ingredient or unprocessed product leaks contribute to the dissemination of contaminants throughout your facility, hampering sanitation efforts?

  • Initiate a proactive campaign against leaks - - “War on Leaks

Implementing these three initiatives in your 2024 plans will help pave the way for regaining control over the Forgotten Coast and safeguarding Zones 1 & 2 from detrimental microorganisms like Listeria, Cronobacter, Salmonella, and E.coli.

If you require assistance initiating these measures, Bogart Food Safety & Sanitation Associates, Inc. can offer invaluable support with assessments and leadership to facilitate change.

Wishing you all a safe and prosperous New Year.