Preventing contamination and cross-contamination is at the very heart of any food safety or HACCP training programme. If operating rules and procedures are kept simple then understanding and implementation is swift and the potential for error is significantly reduced. One of the simplest forms of avoiding cross-contamination is colour coding. This can apply to all aspects of food safety – from the zoning of areas to cleaning and hygiene, clothing and tools and utensils.
Colour is the same in any language
Colour is a universal language, so no matter how many different nationalities work under one roof, colour coding is easy to apply and comprehend. For example if areas where raw meat is processed are coded red and areas where cooked meat is handled are coded yellow, it is easy to avoid cross contamination since only red clothing, utensils and equipment should be used within that area. If yellow equipment is found within a red area it is easy to trace potential contamination.
Similarly in allergen management colour coding can play a vital role. Equipment, utensils and clothing (e.g. aprons, gloves etc.) for handling nuts can be coded a particular colour, soya a different colour, dairy a different colour and so on.
Colour coding impresses auditors
Not only does colour coding make daily operations easier, it also immediately demonstrates to auditors that you have a clear policy of segregation to prevent cross-contamination within your premises. It provides a quick visual confirmation that equipment is where it should be and acts as a further layer of protection to established food safety practices.
Examples of colour coding include:
Red – raw meat
Yellow – cooked meat
Blue – fish and shellfish
Green – fresh produce
White – bakery and dairy products
It can also be applied to cleaning products to ensure that the correct fluids are used in the right area. It’s not just food processing and manufacturing plants that can benefit from colour coding. Kitchens and caterers, whatever their size can help to keep contamination at bay in this way too, through the use of coloured chopping boards, knives and other kitchen utensils used in the preparation of food. There are several companies which provide colour-coded products for this very purpose.
A small percentage of staff may be colour-blind, but if you select colours that are in high contrast to one another then this problem can be overcome with ease. Colour coding as a system to minimise cross-contaminationis is covered in our HACCP training courses and Food Safety training courses. For more information, please visit our main website www.vwa.co.uk