Food and beverage processing plants present a unique set of challenges regarding facility flooring.
The flooring has to withstand harsh conditions with temperature extremes, frequent high-pressure hosing, and a constant barrage of heavy equipment. Then there are the ingredients that are commonly handled or spilled on facility floors. Concrete floors experience regular contact with oils, acids and chemicals daily.
Painting contractors know that the food processing industry has some of the most challenging requirements for food safe floor coatings applications. Coatings must ensure a hygienic surface and be durable enough to create a protective barrier that prevents contaminants from permeating the concrete substrate.
FDA Approved Flooring Systems and Regulations For Food Processing Plants
Food processing plants are required to maintain clean areas at all times. This includes food processing floorings that should be easy to clean and sanitize.
The FDA and USDA has safety and hygiene regulations that require strict compliance from the food processing industry. Food processors will not be able to operate without certification from the FDA. Even existing plants are still in danger of being fined or shut down if the FDA finds evidence of non-compliance. There is also the possibility of forcible product recalls, urged by the FDA and USDA, should a quality inspection reveal violations of the standards. Any of these situations could cost the plant significant financial losses.
FDA Approved Food Safe Flooring Importance
The FDA has stringent quality guidelines for food processing facilities because it protects the populace against health-threatening pathogens such as e. coli, listeria or salmonella. These pathogens thrive in poorly processed food and unsanitary environments and can be transmitted to the food-consuming community.
Everything You Need To Know About FDA And USDA Regulations
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for protecting the public’s health by enforcing regulations that guarantee the safety of the nation’s food supply. On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to food. These two agencies work together to eradicate the hazards associated with food production, such as food contamination.
According to the FDA, flooring in the food processing industry should possess the following qualities:
- Seamless, joint-free finish
- Impervious to water
- Coved at wall junction
- Able to withstand cleaning routines
- Durable to avoid cracking and erosion
FDA Food Safe Coatings And Finishes for Concrete Floors
Quarry or commercial grade vinyl composition tile, as well as seamlessly-poured and sealed concrete, are the approved finishes for kitchens, food preparation and storage rooms, and the waste disposal and washing areas in food manufacturing facilities. This is also true for walk-in refrigeration and freezer areas, with the addition of stainless steel and poured synthetic materials. The use of any materials aside from these must be submitted to the FDA for evaluation and approval.
The reason why these finishes are acceptable is that they allow for smooth, non-absorbent and easy-to-clean floorings. Additionally, food safe floor coatings of epoxy-, silicone- or polyurethane-based materials are required to maintain flooring integrity and provide long-lasting performance.
FDA regulations do not cover any specific floor coating formulation. However, the material composition of the FDA approved floor coatings is what is considered in determining food safe flooring. Non-toxic materials are preferred and materials that would not provide an environment for harmful pathogens or food contaminants to proliferate.
Most Common Types of Food Safe Floor Coatings
The following are the most popular types of flooring options that meet the government’s strict guidelines:
One of the most common materials for food processing floor coating is epoxy, which is a solution that is compliant with FDA regulations. Epoxy flooring consists of a two-part epoxy system – polymer resins and hardeners. When the components are thoroughly combined, they form a chemical reaction causing the epoxy solution to harden, referred to as “curing.” This mixture is then poured over the concrete floor to create a rigid, plastic-like film that is resistant to degradation.
Pros of Epoxy Floors
- Appearance – Epoxy coatings can instantly elevate the visual appeal of any space.
- Variety – An epoxy floor coating can be modified to any color possible. Design-wise, the possibilities are endless.
- Affordability – Epoxy is one of the most cost-effective food processing floor coating options.
- Durability – Epoxy floors have a longer lifespan than many other floor types.
- Longevity – Epoxy floor coatings can last for decades with proper installation and maintenance.
Urethane coating is another type that stands out when talking about commercial and industrial flooring solutions. When applied to floors of food and beverage processing facilities, it will harden over the course of a few hours. It appears visually similar to epoxy, but the two flooring options have several key differences.
Epoxy and Urethane Coating Comparisons
- Urethane offers higher resistance to inorganic and organic alkalis, solvents and corrosion, which are common in the food and beverage processing industry.
- Epoxy offers durability against water and detergents,Urethane provides resistance against UV.
- Urethane flooring systems are softer and more elastic than epoxy’s hard and solid nature. This means that urethane is more scratch-resistant and epoxy is more impact-resistant.
- Epoxy bonds better with concrete.
Polished concrete floors require a process where a concrete floor is mechanically ground and polished with abrasives. The surface is then refined in polishing stages to achieve a specified level of appearance.
The procedure includes the use of a substance called a “hardener.” This material is applied to the surface, which will then penetrate the concrete creating a chemical reaction that hardens the surface. Polishing is done subsequently, utilizing progressively finer grinding tools. High polished concrete is only achieved between 1600 or 3000+ grit levels. Dyes suited for polished concrete systems can also be added to achieve a particular color or design.
“Hybrid” Concrete Polish
Hybrid polished concrete is not considered real polished concrete, but it provides a similar look. This flooring system is also called “half polish,” requiring less physical refinement on the polished concrete slab. Since it requires less work, it is less expensive than the “normal” residential polished concrete while providing the same benefits. The surface shine is the same, and concrete floor cleaning for both systems is effortless.
Which FDA-Approved Flooring Systems should you use?
Each floor coating mentioned above comes with its pros and cons. If you’re unsure which one is suited for your food and beverage processing facility, then it’s best to ask professionals for help. Seasoned contractors will conduct an assessment on your commercial or industrial establishment before recommending FDA-approved flooring coating options. They will take into account environmental factors as well as food and mechanical traffic to come up with a fitting solution that is in accordance with FDA and USDA regulations. Of course, you can never go wrong if you work with an expert flooring team.
Partner With Raider Painting For Floor Coating Applications
Make sure your facility flooring is food-safe with the help of the expert team of experienced painting contractors at Raider Painting. We are a premier painting and coating company that provides expert services to food processing companies all over the United States. When searching for the best contractor to handle FDA approved floor coatings in your facility, Raider Painting is the right one for the job.
Choosing to partner with us means that you are in good hands. We have serviced numerous commercial and industrial facilities in the continental U.S. for over three decades. Since 1983, we have committed ourselves to giving the best floor coating services that comply with FDA and USDA regulations. Here at Raider Painting, our work doesn’t end until our clients are 100 percent satisfied with the project’s outcome.
Contact us today! Call 877-724-2474 or fill out our online form to get a free estimate from our Estimating Department.