Overlook the correct storage of hygiene equipment at your peril. The consequences can be way more serious than you may have thought.

Food producer. Manufacturer. Retailer. No matter where you fall in the culinary ecosystem, chances are the correct storage of hygiene equipment isn’t exactly your most pressing concern. Too often hygiene equipment storage is seen as trivial; an irrelevant box-ticking exercise.

But that’s a dangerous attitude. Look from a different angle at the storage of your hygiene equipment and you will soon see that it’s business-critical. The unintended consequences of a laissez-faire approach to hygiene equipment storage can be severe – from high staff churn to the loss of contracts. In short: getting food hygiene storage right is good for your bottom line.

Here are seven consequences of poor hygiene storage that you should seek to avoid.

1. Foreign bodies in your food

Let’s face it. Nobody wants to find something unexpected in their lunch. And in today’s hyper-connected, social media obsessed world, food scares travel fast. Have you heard the story of a diner that required surgery after swallowing wire brush bristles lurking inside a pizza? You don’t want to be responsible for a similar scare.

Yet without a clear protocol for the storage and use of hygiene equipment, cleaning items are often left where they shouldn’t be: near production areas, for example. When hygiene equipment is scattered, vital integrity checks either don’t happen or are ineffective. There’s also a risk of equipment being used inappropriately: the wrong item for the wrong job. Not good.

2. Mouldy madras and product recalls

Cleaning equipment gets damp. Stored in incorrect, poorly ventilated conditions, bacteria and mould begin to flourish. This in turn can contaminate food production equipment and, ultimately, your products.

That can lead to food that’s off before its use by date, consumer complaints and potentially product recalls. It could even result in the loss of contracts. All because your hygiene equipment wasn’t stored properly.

3. Allergen contamination and chemical risk

Properly stored hygiene equipment is far more likely to be used for its intended purpose. Without correct storage, equipment segregation is sometimes ignored and cleaning items are used in areas they shouldn’t. That risks allergen cross-contamination and threatens the integrity of your production facilities. Of course, sometimes cleaning products are stored in chemicals, raising the risk of chemical contamination in your facilities too.

4. The erosion of staff morale

Imagine working in a wet suit that’s still smelly and damp from the previous shift. Or lacking the equipment you need to do your job properly. Or being unable to find the tools you need to complete your to-do list. It’s easy to see how a slapdash approach to the storage of hygiene equipment can have a toxic affect on staff morale.

It breeds a culture where a blasé approach to food safety is the norm. It results in a rapid turnover of staff and high recruitment costs. And it makes it difficult to attract top staff because of poor working conditions. Do not underestimate the importance of giving happy staff an environment in which to flourish.

5. Breaches of security and loss of equipment

Is your hygiene equipment stored securely or can it be accessed by anyone? You could have a problem with untrained staff using your cleaning items. That raises food safety as well as health and safety concerns. There’s also the obvious risk that your hygiene equipment will be pilfered, damaged or tampered with.

6. Money wasted on replacement products

It doesn’t matter what the product is: if it’s not looked after, it will need replacing sooner rather than later. Over time that becomes a serious drain, adding unnecessarily to your overheads.

7. Loss of accreditation

Poor hygiene standards can and will harm your business come audit time. In many second and third audit standards, hygiene is a fundamental. As it should be! Poor results can lead to your site being downgraded or even stripped of accreditation altogether. What would that do for your business?

Over to you...

The storage of your hygiene equipment may seem inconsequential. But getting it wrong can have dramatic consequences. Implement a thorough process for the storage of hygiene equipment and you are likely to reduce overheads, boost profits, improve staff morale and increase food safety.

Sure, it takes a bit of effort in the short-term. But isn’t it worth it for the long-term benefits?

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