Food Safety for Maintenance

Food Safety cannot be achieved without maintenance. Every food facility needs a maintenance support service. We need all need these guys on our side; you know those big guys that are built like springbok rugby players. They normally don’t say much, but come into the plant wielding toolboxes, and with the quiet focus of movie-star assassins, proceed to problem solve whilst working under immense pressure.

These maintenance guys are the heroes of our blog. Join us as we focus on the role of the maintenance department in our food safety system.

Maintenance Objectives For Food Safety

Maintenance objectives a food safety management system

It’s all about optimising the facility and equipment to ensure product safety and quality, as well as the smooth operation of the plant to prevent breakdowns and reduce waste wherever possible.

Aiming for this objective can be seen as walking a tight-rope. It is a constant balancing act between product, man and machine to ensure control at every step of the process for every batch of product produced.

What are the requirements and how do we implement these?


We have broken down the implementation of these requirements into  8 Steps:

Step 1: Establish an Engineering Standard

The best reference standard available is the ISO 14159:2002 (Safety of machinery — Hygiene requirements for the design of machinery).

This standard provides guidance on the selection of the required hygiene measures applicable to the design of machinery and equipment and is based on a risk assessment which takes into account the intended use, product type, degree of further processing, cleaning and disinfection programme etc.

Engineering Standards

Here is a list of some of engineering standards, guidelines and legislation that should be considered when establishing the standards for your plant:

  • The European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) promotes safe food by improving hygienic engineering and design in all aspects of food manufacture and lists a number of guidelines available for purchasing on a range of processing topics – SEE HERE
  • EC Directive 2006/42/EC for Machinery.
  • EN 1672-2 Food processing machinery. Basic concepts. Hygiene requirements.
  • EN ISO 14159 – Safety of machinery — Hygiene requirements for the design of machinery.

Step 2: Train Your Maintenance Team

Maintenance needs to understand:

  • Their role in the prevention of food safety hazards
  • The importance of hygiene design standards,
  • How the maintenance support service contributes towards supporting and maintaining the objectives of the Food Safety Management System.
  • Entecom has a one-day Food Safety for Maintenance workshop which covers this topic in detail.

Step 3: Implement a Preventative Maintenance Programme

  • Start by tabulating all the items that have an impact on food safety or quality.
  • This list will include light-fittings, sieves, magnets, air-conditioners, water filters, process monitoring equipment, hand-held temperature probes etc. important that each item is traceable to a unique number.
  • Group the items into categories/ departments or sections of the plant
  • Describe the method you are going to use to monitor / maintain each item to ensure that it’s operating at its optimum standard to prevent food safety / quality or any breakdown.
  • Provide the frequency at which you need to perform the inspection or monitoring service or routine maintenance required.
  • The frequency will depend on how critical the item is to ensuring food safety / quality, the age as well as the condition of the equipment.
  • You should refer to the equipment manuals where-ever possible or contact the manufacturer for guidance here if needed.
  • Keep all the equipment manuals on file, cross-referenced to the above item / serial numbers on the Planned Preventive Maintenance Programme for ease of reference.

Commissioning of New Equipment

When commissioning a new plant or new equipment, the manufacturer and supplier should be contacted to ensure that that the above Maintenance Programme is updated.
Ensure that all the equipment manuals are included and available.

Step 4: Link up with Production

  • Set up a meeting with the production teams to discuss how production should also play their part by implementing daily equipment inspections during the pre-start, shift-change-over or after cleaning, e.g inspecting sieves, filters, magnets etc.
  • These routine inspections will contribute towards the prevention of hazards and should verify that the above equipment is clean, undamaged and fitted correctly
  • Record the inspections
  • Set up a meeting with the production teams to discuss how production should also play their part by implementing daily equipment inspections during the pre-start, shift-change-over or after cleaning, e.g inspecting sieves, filters, magnets etc.
  • These routine inspections will contribute towards the prevention of hazards and should verify that the above equipment is clean, undamaged and fitted correctly
  • Record the inspections

Step 5: Establish a Job Card System

Categorising Job Cards

If you are using a manual system, you can colour code your Job Cards so that jobs can easily be categorised, e.g Blue is Planned Preventive Maintenance, Yellow is for Routine Monitoring, Red is for urgent breakdowns, Orange for Temporary Maintenance etc.

Job Card Information

Job Cards can provide you with valuable information such as which artisan worked on which machine (traceable to asset ID number), how long the artisan worked on the equipment for, what was wrong, what was fixed, what tools were used, what spare-parts were used and when it was signed off back into production.

Post Maintenance Cleaning

  • Job Cards should also include a Post Maintenance Cleaning checklist.
  • The artisan should confirm that the area is clean, free from any loose nuts or bolts, tools, excess lubricants and is safe for production to continue.
  • The production supervisor should countersign to verify that the job has been completed and that the area is free from any hazards / potential contamination and that standards are acceptable for production to continue.
  • This is a vital hand-over step, and this is often where things go wrong.
  • Maintenance should never leave the area until the Job Card has been signed by production.

Step 6: Establish a System for Temporary Repairs

  • Temporary repairs should only be used in an emergency situation, and only if the temporary repair does not introduce any potential food safety risk.
  • All Temporary Repairs should be recorded on the Job Cards to ensure that all maintenance and production staff are aware of the temporary repair and the time-frame in which the permanent repair will be made.
  • Some companies introduce a system where-by all equipment with temporary repairs is tagged to enhance visibility.
  • The tags are traceable to the Job Card system.

Step 7: Implement the Use of Food Grade Materials

  • All lubricants, paints and solvents used by the maintenance department should be stored securely in the maintenance workshop.
  • A register of all the chemicals used by the maintenance department should be available and kept up to date.
  • Any food contact materials or those material that may pose a risk to food safety, should be food grade and the presence of any allergens should be investigated with the suppliers and managed in accordance with the allergen management programme.
  • Certificates, Data Sheets or Specifications should be available as evidence of the food-grade status of the materials.
  • Refer to the ISO 21469 standard for Lubricants for more information.

Step 8: Clean and Tidy the Engineering Workshop

An organised, clean and tidy workshop sets the standard for discipline for your maintenance team.

  • The workshop should be located where it cannot pose a risk to food safety.
  • Organise the workshop into demarcated work areas if practicable and let each artisan take responsibility for their own work area.
    Ensure that the workshop is clean and tidy.
  • Maintenance staff should each have their own tool-boxes and each tool-box should contain a register of all the tools contained in the tool boxes.
  • The artisans should check the toolbox. contents against the register to ensure that tools have not been left in the plant as this could pose a potential food safety risk.
  • Provide the required PPE for the maintenance team.
  • Implement swarf mats or changes of footwear where there is a cross-contamination risk to the production area.
  • If your facility has any high-risk or high care areas, then tools used within these areas should be dedicated to these areas and kept securely stored within the area.
  • Include the maintenance workshop in the monthly GMP inspections to ensure that the hygiene standards are maintained.

How can Entecom help you?

We have a digital food safety management solution to help you convert from paper to paperless so that you can manage your food safety system with ease.

With Entecom Online, you can:

  • Schedule your preventive maintenance programme digitally.
  • Upload and search for all certificates and material safety data sheets with ease.
  • Raise Job Cards automatically based on the Planned Maintenance Schedule.
  • Trigger Job Cards instantly from any department when a fault or facility non-conformance is reported.
  • Communicate breakdowns instantly.
  • Track the completion of Job Cards.
  • Pull all maintenance reports when you need them. 


Related Posts

Search & Filter our blog

  • Filter by Category

Almost complete 90%

Download e-Book