Food safety has always been important, but never more so than in these times when we are dealing with a global pandemic.
Food manufacturing plants must maintain an exceptionally high level of cleanliness and hygiene. Penalties for non-compliance with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or the United States Department of Agriculture can be bad enough, but do not compare with the public relations damage with the buying public if things go wrong with food product recalls.
Paint coatings have always played a vital role in maintaining the cleanliness and sanitation in food plants. Paint can be found everywhere – on metal deck ceilings, structural steel, walls and floors … and even on food manufacturing equipment. These coatings must be durable enough to withstand constant cleaning, often with harsh chemicals and/or hot water.
Because peeling and failing paint are critical points in CFIA and USDA inspections, it is absolutely vital that the coatings being specified and applied are the correct ones for the job they are intended to do over an extended period of time. And that the preparation and application are done correctly. And that they are approved for use by the respective governmental agencies for use in food plants.
PREPARATION AND PAINT APPLICATION:
Preparation is the most important factor in any coating application. Failure to properly prepare surfaces before painting can result in flaking paint down the road, which can lead to a “Fail” in a CFIA or USDA audit. Surfaces have to be free of oil, grease, dirt and other surface contaminants that would weaken any adhesion of the new paint that could cause peeling later. Although cleaning in preparation for painting can be accomplished in several ways, it must be done thoroughly. This can include anything from pressure washing, hand cleaning, chemical cleaning, dry-ice blasting, and abrasive blast cleaning (or “sandblasting” as it is commonly referred to, though in a food manufacturing facility, this would normally be done using other blast media such as corn cobs, glass beads or steel shot).
The atmospheric conditions inside a plant can vary considerably and affect all surfaces, painted and unpainted alike, which is why choosing the correct paint coatings to use is so important. I recall the owner of a bottling plant we painted years ago telling me that one of his competitors had to tear down a building only three years after starting operation because he had done nothing to protect it from the extreme humidity; the metal deck ceiling had rusted out beyond repair and the block walls were impregnated with mould. Because the building we painted was done with an epoxy primer and a urethane topcoat, it is still standing with minimal repair over the last 20 years.
As related above, mould and mildew are often byproducts of food manufacturing. Coatings play an important role in preventing and controlling this problem. In fact, the wrong paint can actually be a “food” source for mould and cause it to spread. Not only must any existing mould be handled before painting, but the coating applied must be mould-inhibitive and durable enough that any mildew that does form on the surface can be easily washed away.
Even with the most stringent precautions, it is sometimes next to impossible to completely eradicate the problem of mould and mildew. Although we use fungicides to kill spores before painting, these can also be used as part of a mould remediation plan that doesn’t include painting, especially for small areas. For larger areas, dry-ice blasting is the preferred method.
TYPES OF COATINGS:
Paint failure is particularly troublesome for the food industry. Over the years, we have been called upon to correct far too many situations where the wrong paint was applied in the wrong situation. Correctly applied coating to a metal deck ceiling can brighten up a plant and make for a pleasant work environment – an
incorrect application can be a disaster with peeling paint and audit failures from the CFIA or USDA. Proper choice of paint material can improve your sanitation process – or lead to disaster when the paint fails prematurely because of frequent cleaning. With our knowledge and years of experience, we can direct you to the proper end result for a coating system.
Lengthy plant shutdowns are generally difficult to arrange with any food manufacturing plant. Because of this, we are frequently required to do a large amount of work over a short time period, often on weekends and sometimes over night. We have the experience and expertise to do what some customers think is the impossible in the time frame given.