HACCP is a safety management system created for the food industry, but it is also relevant in laundry operations because contaminated linen or garments can have a negative impact on people in numerous situations, food-related or not. Implementing HACCP procedures in the laundry is important in the food industry: clean workwear and uniforms are key to keeping a number of critical points under control, and if laundry operations cannot assure clean, uncontaminated garments and linen, these could, instead, be a hazard. Laundry operations play an even more important role in the hospitality industry and medical field since personal gear and workwear are themselves critical control points.
HACCP implementation in the laundry is a matter of processes because the control of critical hazard points encompasses all the activities, how they are conducted and the appliances used. The choice of the correct washing machine is just as important because management procedures can be amended but if an appliance doesn’t meet standards then it has to be replaced. Knowing how to choose the right one is therefore very important.
Commercial washing machines in HACCP laundry operations:
The critical control points related to a commercial washing machine are
- Wash cycles: how are they designed, can they reach high enough temperatures to kill pathogens?
- Use of chemicals: are the chemicals used in the wash cycle capable of killing pathogens?
- Water extraction: at the end of the wash cycle, the load sits in warm water. Damp heat favors the proliferation of bacteria and pathogens, so it is important to minimize exposure time to these conditions.
- Drying temperature: high temperatures can assure control over the proliferation of bacteria by using heat to destroy pathogens; however, high temperatures can also ruin garments and linen so a commercial dryer that can quickly reach high temperatures and not keep them high for long is the best option to efficiently dry the load and neutralize pathogens.
- Fast and safe handling of linen prevents possible contamination hazards; ergonomic design can facilitate these operations.
- Maintenance: there are two sides to this issue
- If appliances can self-monitor and report malfunctions then it is possible to avoid running cleaning cycles on a machine that is not operating properly and that could create conditions for contamination e.g. by mixing clean and dirty water in the tumbler.
- Rapid, appropriate servicing and maintenance, often performed by the appliance supplier can offset malfunctions and related risks.
In addition, a good manufacturer uses only quality materials, so that linen and clothes do not come into contact with deteriorated parts or with the surrounding environment.