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Good Housekeeping Practices

Development – To define detail, scope and purpose.

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Training participants will gain a basic understanding of Good Housekeeping Practices and their applications within food safety and quality systems. Basic knowledge competency will be verified through successful completion of the accompanying Good Housekeeping Practices assessment activity. Basic skill competency can be verified through the Good Housekeeping Practices competency checklist available as a resource for this training activity.

Key Definitions For Good Housekeeping Practices
- Housekeeping: Cleanliness, neatness and orderliness of an area with the designation of a proper place for everything and everything in its proper place; good housekeeping practices often preclude the occurrence of product contamination within food businesses.

Good Housekeeping Practices Development
When considering the development, documentation and implementation of Good Housekeeping Practices within food safety and quality management systems, the following information should be considered to ensure effective outcomes:

About Good Housekeeping Practices
The goals of good housekeeping practices are to reduce potential threats to the safety and quality of foods during all stages of processing, storage and handling. The advantages of good housekeeping practices include team building and reliance, conservation of time and effort whilst working, improvement of workplace safety, minimised risk of product or process contamination, improved effectiveness of pest control programmes and the  protection of machines and equipment used in processing.

The requirements of Good Housekeeping Practices include:
- Regular Cleaning;
- Cleaning all spills and breakages as soon as they occur;
- Placing all waste into regularly emptied bins;
- Ensuring all equipment is maintained in a good state of repair and is covered or stored when not in use;
- Cleaning ingredient and raw material containers regularly and removing unused or discarded containers from processing areas immediately;
- Keeping all processing areas clean.

Placement of Items
- Storing chemicals, waste bins, packaging away from food;
- Keeping all maintenance related items such as tools, nuts and bolts, lubricants and rags in a specified area;
- Storing hoses and other cords coiled on hooks and off the floor when not in use;
- Ensure no raw materials or packaging materials of finished products come into direct contact with the floor;
- Do not allow foods that are not suitable for consumption to be mistaken for other foods.

- Report faults in machinery and servicing requirements to appropriate persons as elements of a preventative maintenance system;
- Conduct audits of machinery as to their operational efficiency and suitability for specified tasks.
- Only provide correct and certified repairs or servicing to machinery. Temporary repairs are not generally acceptable unless they have been risk assessed and are controlled;
- Do not use discarded food containers for storage during servicing as they may be transported back into the production process.

All food materials need to be stored appropriately in order to prevent food contamination. Adhering to protocols in storage that reduce the potential for contamination will assist in the final distribution of safe and suitable food.

The following points support good storage practices:
- Inspection of raw materials before acceptance against relevant criteria such as temperature and packaging condition and integrity;
- Ensuring ingredient and material containers are suitable for their intended purpose and are cleaned and sanitised periodically to prevent contamination through insect infestation, microbial growth or physical hazard entry;
- Ensuring storage shelving, racking and pallets are constructed of appropriate materials, well maintained and situated off the floor and away from walls. It is important to consider that some regulatory, certification and customer standards nominated specified distances for storage off the floor and away from walls;
- Ensuring all chemicals are approved for use, correctly labelled and stored under monitored conditions, so as not to be confused with food ingredients or become hazards in food production;
- Ensure pest control systems such vermin baits allow easy identification of their presence, and do not provide potential for contamination of foods;
- Ensure designated storage areas are clean and free from contaminating odours, in good state of repair, and free from vermin and other animals;
- Ensure foods and items such as packaging are stored under conditions that do not allow contamination.

Restricted Items in Specified Areas
There are many materials that are often prohibited in food production areas due to their potential for causing harm to consumers.

The presence of the following items in production, packaging, storage and handling areas is of major concern:
- Paper clips;
- Rubber bands;
- Thumb tacks;
- Pins, nails, screws;
- Steel wool;
- Wood: If wooden materials such as wooden pallets must be used, it is highly recommended that they be maintained in a good state of repair;
- Staples;
- Glass where applicable: May be unavoidable as light fittings and instruments, but can still be contained through common sense methods of control and management;
- Packaging containers: Can cause contamination during opening, either from external sources, or by parts of the packaging breaking loose, and contacting the food;
- Associated physical food hazards: Ingredients such as dried goods can be sifted or screened prior to use to reduce the possibility of foreign matter within the packaged or stored product being transported further into the production process.

All persons working in direct contact with food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials should conform to hygienic practices while on duty to the extent necessary to protect against contamination of food.

Methods for maintaining cleanliness include, but are not limited to:
-Wearing outer garments suitable to the operation in a manner that protects against the contamination of food, food contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials;
- Maintaining adequate personal cleanliness;
- Washing hands thoroughly and sanitising if necessary to protect against contamination with undesirable microorganisms in an adequate hand-washing facility before starting work, after each absence from the workstation, and at any other time when the hands may have become soiled or contaminated;
- Removing all unsecured jewellery and other objects that might fall into food, equipment, or containers, and removing hand jewellery that cannot be adequately sanitised during periods in which food is manipulated by hand. If such hand jewellery cannot be removed, it may be covered by material which can be maintained in an intact, clean, and sanitary condition and which effectively protects against the contamination by these objects of the food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials;
- If gloves are worn by the food handlers, they should be intact and clean. Regular changing of gloves is paramount. The gloves should be made from an impermeable food grade material;
- Wearing, where appropriate, in an effective manner, hair nets, headbands, caps, beard covers, or other effective hair restraints and storing clothing or other personal belongings in areas other than where food is exposed or where equipment or utensils are washed;
- Confining the following to areas other than where food may be exposed or where equipment or utensils are washed: eating food, chewing gum, drinking beverages, or using tobacco;
- Taking any other necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials with micro-organisms or foreign substances including, but not limited to, perspiration, hair, cosmetics, tobacco, chemicals, and medications applied to the skin.

Cross Contamination
Cross contamination can occur when pathogenic micro-organisms are transferred from one food of food contact surface to another, carried by utensils, hands or other foods. Another form of cross contamination involves allergens, and usually occurs due to improper cleaning between production runs; this is more commonly known as Cross Contact for Allergens. Cross contamination can be controlled within the food processing environment through effective and adequate cleaning and sanitising procedures, along with staff participation in procedures implemented to reduce its occurrence. Controlling cross contamination is critical where raw and ready to eat products are being prepared, and certain activities can minimise and eliminate its potential.

Signage is commonly used within all food industry sectors to promote food safety and quality, as well as occupational health and safety. It is important that signage is appropriately constructed and fitted, so as not to become a food hazard. It is generally accepted that signage should be constructed of flexible, waterproof and cleaning chemical resistant materials. This excludes hard or brittle substances such as rigid plastic or perspex, which may potentially enter foods as physical hazards.

When signage is referenced to procedures, policies, or other components of the documented food safety and quality systems, references should be made to the content of such. The relevant signage should be included within a register, for example, the document register, to ensure that the signage is amended whenever the associated policies or procedures are amended.

If your food business supplies foodstuffs manufactured to a customer’s specifications, it is important to consider any specific Good Housekeeping Practices Development requirements in relation to their items.

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