> Devising a Colour Coded System: Key Factors - The Food Safety Company Devising a Colour Coded System: Key Factors - The Food Safety Company
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    Friday, 16 December 2016

    Devising a Colour Coded System: Key Factors

    The power of organisation cannot be understated. Putting things in order can vastly improve productivity, reduce stress levels, and offer undisputable visual cues. A colour coded system can be a very important tool for kitchens, minimising some specific problems with hygiene and/or production tools on site. However, there are a few issues that must be addressed when devising a colour coded system.

    Img source: Klipspringer
    1. Why do you need a colour coded system?

    If, for example, you find that equipment is being misplaced or left out then a colour coded system will offer clear, visual cues. Another ideal situation in which to implement colour coding is if equipment should be confined to use in a certain area. Again, visual cues make it immediately obvious when something is amiss.
    Specifically, a colour coded system helps with:
    • Control Equipment
    • Segregation of Use
    • Separate High and Low Care Environments
    • Control Different Species Cross Contamination
    • Control Allergen Cross Contamination

    2. Where on the site is colour coding needed?

    Remember that an auditor visiting your site must be able to fully understand the logic behind your system. The system should be easy to understand and simple in practice. Don’t concentrate only on your area of responsibility; think about what other cleaning and production equipment is used on site and where it is being used, such as the toilets, external areas, or corridors. Should these areas be included in the system? Write a list of all areas and equipment, assessing the contamination risk and taking everything into consideration when developing your colour coding procedure.

    When incorporating a new colour coded system, it must mesh with any systems already in place. If there is a pre-existing system, assess the situation carefully before making any drastic changes. Consider whether that system can be enhanced or added to in order to achieve the same functionality as the system you’ve devised. After your assessment, you may find that the pre-existing system cannot mesh with the new one. In this case, starting over might be the best option.

    3. What will be included?

    Img source: Klipspringer
    Once you’ve determined the areas that will need a colour coded system, think carefully about what equipment will fall under the procedure. Will PPE be included? Perhaps the procedure will apply solely to hygiene and production. Maybe all equipment in the area should be included; however, it may be difficult to find all equipment in the colour required for the system. Consider how this problem can be addressed in the system. For example, have two colours per line, alternating them each time with clean-downs and hand-washing in between. The number of allergens handled on site may divert this problem slightly. There are 14 recognised allergens within EU law, but if the site only handles three that will make the job of devising a colour coding system much easier. If the site handles all 14, finding that many colour options is very unrealistic. In this case, it will be necessary to think up a solution that works with fewer colours while still making the system water tight.

    4. How will the system be implemented?
    • Consider if the validation of cleaning the equipment is required to demonstrate, particularly where allergens or species are concerned, that all traces are removed through the washing process.
    • Have a procedure in place to keep separate food contact and non-food contact surfaces.
    • Think carefully about the best way to store tools and equipment. Hooks can work quite effectively in certain areas where rails cannot be installed. Rails have a clean, organised look. Shadow boards allow for immediate visual confirmation when tools or equipment are missing and gives ample storage area.

    5. When to introduce the system to staff?

    Once the kinks have been worked out and the details fall into place, staff should be alerted to the new colour coded system immediately. Efficient training will allow the system to be implemented quickly. Training should commence in advance of implementation and include the correct cleaning and storage of utensils. Remember that the more complex the system the harder to train and manage going forward. Audits of the colour coding in operations should be completed in line with risk assessed frequencies. Doing so will ensure not only that all staff are following the rules, but uncover flaws within the system. These can be then be found and resolved.

    Jacqui Litvan

    Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).
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