Is your company ready for contract sanitation?
Food in CanadaFood Safety Processing food operation sanitation
Hiring a contract sanitation provider can be a complex decision
For the past several years contract sanitation has increased in popularity as a means of managing plant sanitation. However, shifting responsibility to a contract sanitation provider can be a complex decision. To determine if you are ready to take the step toward contract sanitation, take note of your company’s pain points.
- Production has reached capacity
If your plant is at capacity for production, saving time is a priority to enhance your operation. Outsourcing your sanitation program can create efficiencies and allow you to focus on building capacity.
- Sanitation downtime
Contract sanitation crews are trained specifically to clean and sanitize and are supervised by a manager focused on those goals. Some contract sanitation companies even guarantee against downtime or pay labour costs for affected areas if production is delayed due to sanitation.
- Sanitation expertise
Not sure what to use or what to do? A contract sanitation manager will know the ins and outs of sanitation, will be able to recommend hygienic design improvements, and will be able to provide other insights to assist in company management decisions.
- Program control
Chemical concentrations need to be managed carefully to control cost and chemical efficacy. Things such as employee training, chemical storage and water quality also need to be managed. If all these details are overwhelming you, it’s time to put them in the hands of the sanitation experts.
- Compliance and audit preparedness
Contract cleaners are experts at ensuring standards are being met and documented.
- Hiring for sanitation is challenging
Contract sanitation providers take over the entire hassle of hiring and managing sanitation shift teams. This allows your in-house human resources department to better focus on current employee hiring and retention.
- Equipment damage
Contract sanitation companies not only train employees on their sanitation job, but also how to clean equipment safely and effectively. In addition, many providers guarantee that they will cover the repair cost of any equipment that is damaged by sanitation.
What should you look for in a contract sanitation company? Here are some considerations:
- Safety is the number-one priority. The provider should focus not only on the safety of the end consumer but also on worker safety.
- Team member focus. Find a company that respects and values its team members and invests in them through training and coaching. Sanitation shifts can be difficult to staff. Ask the sanitation company about its team recruitment and retention plan, and how it ensures dedicated and consistent staffing.
- Proven processes. The company should provide its employees with universal training and follow proven practices to ensure optimal efficiency. Asking for documentation of processes will give you the confidence that the sanitation company will not overlook any part of your plant.
- Technical services expertise. Find a company with technical expertise in microbiology, chemistry and food safety, and with diverse expertise and understanding of your food production processes.
- Audit ready. The bottom line is that the sanitization provider you choose should work with you to ensure you’re always ready for food safety and inspections, as well as production.
- Boundary-pushing innovations. Choose a company that is constantly looking for ways to improve its processes through safer cleaning techniques, cost-saving methods and environmental protection safeguards.
- Focus on the bigger picture of the food system. Find a company that gets what you do. They should understand that day in, day out, you are providing food for your customers.
- Going above and beyond. It’s a bonus if a contract sanitation company can take over some nonproduction jobs like dry pickup, janitorial services, tub and utensil washing, and recycling programs.
- Ecologically minded. Find a company that focuses on reducing the water, energy and time spent on sanitation, and that takes proper care in storing and disposing of cleaning chemicals.
Deciding to use a contract sanitation provider is a big decision. However, the importance of food safety in our industry, the increasing complexity of complying with regulations and audits, cost control challenges, and sanitation program complexity are all reasons to consider contract sanitation.
Dr. R.J. (Ron) Wasik, PhD, MBA, CFS, is president of RJW Consulting Canada Ltd. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information for this article was provided by PSSI, Packers Sanitation Service Inc.
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