This article is written to meet the following sections of the Standards:
|BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8||7.4.3 Laundry|
4.8.3 Segregation of laundry
7.4.6 Cleaning of non-laundered items
|BRCGS Packaging Issue 6||6.5.8 Laundry|
6.5.9 Segregation of laundry
6.5.7 Cleaning of non-laundered items
|BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 3||Not applicable.|
|BRCGS Storage & Distribution Issue 4||9.6.3 Laundry (for open food products)|
|FSSC22000 Version 5.1||No direct clause to reference other than there must be a PRP for general personal hygiene (ISO 22000:2018 8.2.4j) which is where laundry of protective clothing would sit.|
|IFS Food Version 7||3.2.9 Laundry|
|SQF Edition 9||18.104.22.168 Laundered clothing|
In theory, there are three types of laundering options that are available to you. However, the options become more complicated to manage as you go down the list:
- Using an approved contracted laundry.
- Washing the laundry in-house.
- Employees washing their laundry at home.
We’ll go through each option, to explain what’s needed and why our recommendation is to choose a laundry contractor.
The Standard doesn’t mention risk assessment for laundering workwear, but if you choose an option that requires you to determine controls, these must be documented using risk assessment.
In all of the laundry options, your site must have a procedure that outlines how laundry will be managed. This level of detail and control required at site, will depend on which option you choose – so let’s go through each one. The term ‘personnel’ means, staff, agency staff, visitors and contractors.
If you use a contracted laundry, this is definitely the easiest option – because the contractor will manage all the controls for you. You still have to manage the contractor, but it’s much easier than doing it yourself.
The supplier management process would be used to approve and monitor the contractor. Part of the monitoring programme for the contractor must be that a laundry audit should be conducted at least every three years.
The audit must check that the contractor:
- Has validated their process, which should be built using hazard analysis principles.
- Verifies key process controls on a regular basis.
- Segregates dirty and cleaned laundry.
- Protects clean laundry from contamination (e.g. by the use of covers or bags).
A review with the laundry supplier should also be carried out as part of the monitoring process, defined by your supplier management system.
As a site you must also put in place a system of monitoring the standard of cleaning provided by the contractor. For low-risk sites this could just be visually checking the laundry, but high-risk or high-care sites would need to do more than that, due to risk – so swabbing would be a good solution.
If you’re going to launder in-house (on-site) then you need to act as if you were a laundry contractor – and put all the controls in place, that the contractor would. This means, that you need to:
- Carry out a risk assessment of the process, to define the process controls required.
- Ensure that controls include separation of dirty and clean PPC as well as segregation of PPC from different types of workwear, such as engineering coats and production coats.
- Validate those process controls.
- Determine verification activities for the process controls, including monitoring of the temperature, chemicals and the drying process.
- Carry out routine verification, including visual inspection of clean laundry (or swabbing for high-risk etc.)
You also need to complete internal audits and GMP inspections of the laundry process, so make sure you include it in your internal audit programme.
The last option is to get personnel to launder their workwear themselves. This is the most complicated option and is littered with problems. We strongly recommend you don’t go for this option because it’s so difficult to get right.
First of all, you can only apply home laundry if:
- The laundry is designed to protect the health and safety of the person, it’s not designed to protect the product.
- The clothing is only worn where the product is enclosed, or the product is open but it’s ‘dirty’ e.g. raw produce.
If you decide that you can apply home laundry, you then need to work out how the workwear needs to be laundered. To do this you’ll need to:
- Carry out a risk assessment, to define the washing method required, including temperature, chemicals and drying.
- Define what can and can’t be washed with workwear.
- Validate the washing method.
- Write a procedure that details the washing method and use this to train personnel who are going to launder at home.
- Determine verification activities that will be carried out on-site – to make sure that personnel are washing the workwear following the procedure.
- Complete and record the verification activities and define the corrective action procedure for what will happen, if the laundry is found to not meet the required standard.
- Define what the process will be, if personnel can’t home launder – e.g. if their washing machine breaks.
- Provide personnel with something to put the clean workwear in, when it’s laundered, so they can transport it to work without it getting dirty.
And of course, all of the above would need to be included in the internal audit programme.
Workwear in use
Workwear must be segregated to prevent cross-contamination from:
- Outdoor clothing.
- Different types of workwear (e.g. not mixing white overalls and green hygiene overalls for example).
This means you need to provide:
- Separate lockers or areas in lockers for workwear and outdoor clothes.
- Separate hanging areas for different coloured overalls, for when they’re in use.
Items that can’t be laundered
Where PPC can’t be laundered, such as visors, shoes or wellies – there needs to be a set method for cleaning it. The method and frequency for cleaning must be based on risk and you’d need a documented cleaning procedure that can be used by personnel (check out this article for more info on the cleaning programme).
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject – we’d particularly like to hear from you if have home laundry. Just add your thoughts to the comments section below.