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Key hygienic flooring tips

As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continue, food and drink businesses are still focused on the future post-pandemic. 'Path to recovery' proposals have been published which, endorsed by over 30 UK food and drink organisations, outlines steps Government and industry can take to help future-proof the sector.

For those manufacturing environments the future world order is bringing with it a new set of challenges in terms of assessing business operations and ensuring processes are as safe and hygienic as possible.

Here are our top six flooring project considerations.

1. Eliminate risks to hygienic integrity
Safeguarding the hygienic integrity of food and beverage facilities, whatever their size, has become an ever more complex task. The risk of infection, whether that's unwanted bacteria, mould, fungi, dust, grime or coronavirus, can have a huge impact on the operation, profitability and reputation of a food processing company. And it's particularly problematic where there are incorrect flooring connections, damaged skirting boards and cracks and floor defects.

To minimize these threats, it is essential that the floor is seamless and impervious, as otherwise the germs will build up within any hard to clean gaps or cracks in the floor's surface. Once this has started to happen, harmful microbes can spread to other parts of the facility, infiltrating the equipment, spoiling produce, and potentially becoming the start of a foodborne illness.

We also recommend stainless steel kerbs are installed at the weakest point, where the flooring meets the wall, as it provides impact resistance, as well as a seamless transition. Without it, substances can get trapped in the space between the two surfaces, where it can become a contamination threat over time.

Pre-fabricated kerb systems made by mixing polyester resins and quartz granules with the surface and finishing with a bacteriostatic ad shock resistant polyester gel coat surface are also effective, Cleanrock by Polysto is a good example. EHDEG and HACCP approved these systems can improve hygienic properties still further due to the enhanced sealing mastic used to install them.

2. Think about drainage from the outset
Excess water poses another problem to food processing plants as, if it starts to pool and stagnate, it can quickly become the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. We always recommend that they are pitched to falls and that high-quality stainless-steel drainage systems are included within the design so that liquids can easily flow out. In these challenging times we are also installing more drainage systems with ‘rounded corners' from EDHEG-approved suppliers like Wiedemann and Blucher, that provide further enhanced cleanability.

3. Buy cheap, buy twice. Or more
Hygienic flooring systems must adhere to the very highest standards and most rigorous demands. Failure to do so can be costly in so many ways. At Kemtile, we know this from the number of projects that, having been designed and installed by other companies, we're called upon to put right. We also only work with the very best suppliers and all products that we specify and solutions we provide are manufactured by the very best in the business.

We're one of very few companies that can install both polyurethane and ceramic tiles, which means customers get the right solution for their process and budget. This often sees us combining Stonhard resin and Kagetec ceramic systems, using 18mm fully vitrified mvtec Argelith tiles, which are both very popular choices amongst the UK's food processors, large and small.

4. Balance the benefits of cleanability with slip-resistance
Whist it's essential that the floor is easy-to-clean, it must also be slip-resistant. Food processing plants are often wet, so an anti-slip finish is vital to keep staff and visitors safe. However, coarse surface textures can slow down the cleaning regime. We always advise on the best compromise for each customer so that their flooring system meets all of their needs.

We're also seeing an increase in demand for Stonhard's Stonkleen range of chemically engineered cleaning products as the best cleaning products for our flooring and drainage systems. It's safe, easy to use and sustainable and meet general, as well as any exclusive, facility needs.

5. Consider anti-microbial additives
Incorporating antibacterial additives into the floor is a good way to further minimize the risk from contaminants.

As a division of Stonhard, more customers are asking us about our anti-microbial flooring and wall systems. This is certainly as a result of recent times, but it's important to note that while anti-microbial additives help to protect against the growth of microbes, they do not kill bacteria on contact. If considering using an anti-microbial additive, make sure you properly investigate the claims and the ingredients.

Stonhard's Stonplus PROTECT is an EPA-registered and proven effective anti-microbial ingredient which can be incorporated into most of our flooring products to provide additional protection.

We're also experiencing a real increase in demand for our range of cleaning products and advice on how to use them to keep hygienic flooring systems as clean, and safe, as possible.

6. Follow FSA guidance
The Food Standards Agency has published guidance on the hygiene processes and requirements that processors must follow to continue to safely operate. Along with advice from the Government and other bodies, it provides a practical framework to identify what you need to do to continue, adapt or restart operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food manufacturers are also required to implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. You may need to review your procedures to account for any changes you have implemented and consider where additional thorough cleaning is needed.

7th January 2021

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