When we hear the word “contamination”, we know that it’s bad. But do we know exactly what we’re up against when we’re talking about contaminants? Contamination is a multifaceted game, and there are different ways to address each risk. Contaminants can be physical, chemical, or microbiotic, but today, we’ll be talking about the former two categories.
Physical contaminants are outside substances or objects that find their way into a product or food mixture. They can be as large as a rock or as small as a speck of dust, and they’re not always harmful. Sometimes they are, however – and if the physical contaminant is a living one, like a rat or a roach, your product is also at risk for bacterial contamination. Gross. This is especially troubling if you work in food; keep your products safe from outside objects by keeping them in FDA-approved flat, plastic poly bags. Not only are they great for shipping and keeping your internal items protected, but they’re also recyclable, so you can cut down on waste! You’ll want those bags to be closed nice and tight, so look into getting a thermal sealer as well.
Outside objects can be carried into a cleanroom on an individual’s clothing if they’re not careful. Not only can this bring unclean items into a meticulously clean area, but it can even put employees at risk for slips and falls. Protocol surrounding changing rooms, uniforms, and jewelry should be taken seriously by everyone to ensure a safer cleanroom environment. Certainly people working in cleanrooms understand the importance of clean clothing, but even the cleanest employee can unknowingly track objects into the cleanroom by the bottom of their feet. Sticky mats like the CleanStep can greatly reduce one’s likelihood of inadvertently skating into their cleanroom on a wave of dirty objects!
Some contaminants are of the chemical variety, and these can be much harder to notice. At times, these contaminants can come from something you’ve used to try and keep your product clean in the first place! Chemical contaminants can be introduced as a result of pesticides, tainted water, or industrial pollutants. These chemicals may already be way before a product makes it into a cleanroom (for example, on a pesticide-reliant farm). When you are in control, however, you can minimize the risk for additional contamination by keeping your cleaning products (and other chemicals) locked away and separate from your food products while not in use. Our safety cabinets are a great choice; they’re sturdy, leak-proof, and their bright color makes them hard to miss.
Another way to cut down your risk for chemical contamination is to lower the amount of free-flowing chemicals you’re dealing with in the first place. For tiny clean-ups and regular maintenance throughout the day, don’t break out that huge bottle of sanitizer. There are wipes for any and every cleanroom situation. If you’re in food processing, the TexWipe Cotton Wipes are ideal for high-temperature surfaces and spills, and you’ll be using minimal effort for maximum cleanliness.
* Goodheart-Wilcox Publisher, “Food Safety: Sources of Contamination.” Food Microbiology: Living Organisms in Food. (http://www.g-w.com/pdf/sampchap/9781590706534_ch18.pdf accessed March 2016)
* Sandle, “People in Cleanrooms: Understanding and Monitoring the Personnel Factor.” 2014. IVT Network (http://www.ivtnetwork.com/article/people-cleanrooms-understanding-and-monitoring-personnel-factor)
* “Food Safety: Sources of Contamination.” http://www.g-w.com/pdf/sampchap/9781590706534_ch18.pdf Accessed March 2016