Food For Thought On Flooring For Kitchens
Choosing flooring for food preparation areas can be easy as pie, says Kevin Cook, from Altro’s technical contracting team:
THE food production industry rightly has some of the most stringent legislation concerning flooring and other surfaces. Hygiene is obviously a massive consideration, but so too is durability to avoid costly down-time for replacement. The ability of the flooring to withstand the thermal and chemical attack from food processing is another key factor, as well as slip resistance to assist safe working practices.
Looking to hygiene, step one is to choose a bonded seamless flooring, minimising the number of joints. It may be resin or sheet vinyl – that decision will be based on anticipated traffic, how it’s to be used, and the substrate to which it is bonded.
To choose the right products, you’ll need to be familiar with the processes in that food production facility. For example, flooring in meat production needs to withstand sharp knives if dropped, possible abrasion as heavy packed products are moved, and to combine hygiene with slip-resistance.
In confectionery production you may need less aggressive slip-resistance, but hygiene is vital and hot sugars will erode concrete floors and demand significant thermal tolerance from any flooring materials.
In bakeries moderate slip-resistance is probably required, but thermal shock may result from bakery-trolley wheels and the ubiquitous need for hygiene. Within the dairy industry, lactic acid will erode concrete. Chemical resistance is also required in other sectors of the food industry where resistance is required to other organic acids.
In these instances, resin flooring is best – we’ve found that the most popular choice for food manufacturers is a 6 to 9mm polyurethane resin floor, such as our Altrocrete PU Excel.
Quality of installation has a massive impact on the performance of the flooring. Uniformity affects ease of cleaning, paramount for hygiene. This has driven the development of new products and techniques over the past few years. Some polyurethane finishes installed 20 years ago would just not be tolerated in the modern food processing plant.
Slip-resistance is also of vital to protect operatives in areas where hot or wet processes or cutting equipment are used, but also in areas of food production involving fat deposits or the manual movement of finished food product.
However, even with the correct product and perfect installation, there’s still a need for clean working practices to minimise spillages and effective housekeeping. www.altro.com
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.