Food Safety Quickie #1 – What Do Listeria and Sinks Have in Common?

Listeria loves to live in sinks, especially in hard to clean places like drains. A client of mine recently upgraded an on-farm food processing facility. We intentionally installed a dedicated hand washing station. Why? One of the reasons is for control and prevention of Listeria monocytogenes. This not-so-friendly bacteria can be found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle.

Although the facility is only intended to handle fruits and vegetables, a dedicated hand washing station prevents personnel from washing their hands in a sanitation sink. This may seem like a silly expenditure, but our intention was to prevent the occurrence of Listeria by reducing the likelihood of cross-contamination. Remember, it takes just one cell for cross-contamination to occur, and these pesky little cells will take every opportunity to be moved from one surface to another.

If the space wasn’t so small, we could have gone the extra distance and install separate sinks for sanitation and fruit and vegetable washing. Instead, we opted to keep the food from touching the surfaces of the sink, especially the drains – by using large stainless steel colanders, and scheduling sanitation separate from preparation. Of course, being a small operation with just two food handlers, sanitation naturally occurs after preparation and production anyways, but to be sure, it’s written into the policies, and the sinks are cleaned and sanitized following each production shift.

Let’s prevent a Listeria recall from happening to you – install separate hand washing, preparation and sanitation sinks, and put practices and procedures in place to help reduce your risk.

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