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Food Processing

Food Processing

Safety Considerations in Food Processing

Food processing refers to the transformation of agricultural products into food and the method of creating one form of food into another. There are 37,000 food and beverage processing plants in the U.S.(1) and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food manufacturing employs 1.6 million workers.(2) Food processing encompasses a wide range of applications, including cutting, cooking, cold storage, pasteurizing, packaging, sanitation and maintenance. These applications require personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of not only workers, but also the food they handle. Globally, the food processing industry purchases $1.3 billion in PPE each year, with North America accounting for 41% of all food processing PPE sales.

INDUSTRY HAZARDS

In 2018, the incident rate for food manufacturing workers in the U.S. was 4.2%.(2) Burns, cuts and slips are among the most common types of injuries in food processing plants. Appropriate PPE solutions must protect workers from these hazards while also protecting food from potential contamination. The food processing industry is heavily regulated by federal agencies, such as the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and state agencies. These agencies govern the safety and quality of food produced and sold for consumption.

Ansell's extensive portfolio of hand and body protection ensures the safety of food processing workers and the products they handle. For protection against the risk of cut, burn, chemical splash, contamination, musculoskeletal disease and other hazards in the food processing industry, Ansell provides a wide range of best-in-class solutions.

Ansell Solutions

For food processing applications with low risk of personal injury, the chief purpose of PPE is to protect the food from contamination. Ansell offers an expansive portfolio of protection solutions approved for food contact, developed in compliance with the strictest industry and government requirements. Our food-compliant PPE is made with only legally acceptable, certified safe food-contact materials, designed to ensure the integrity of food and reduce the risk of contamination, food-borne illness and product recalls.
Butchering, deboning, slicing, cutting and chopping require the use of sharp knives and machinery, creating significant risk to workers’ hands and arms. The risk increases when surfaces, hands and tools become slippery from the oil, grease and fats in foods. Cardboard, packaging and pallets can also cause cuts, abrasions and splinters. For many food processing applications, workers need FDA-approved PPE that provides reliable cut protection coupled with a secure grip.

Ansell’s cut resistant gloves are made with innovative technologies to provide outstanding cut protection with enhanced dexterity, grip and comfort. INTERCEPT™ Technology is a proprietary cut resistant yarn that provides a lighter weight and more comfortable alternative to other branded yarns. ANSELL GRIP™ Technology is a coating treatment that minimizes the force required to grip tools or materials, improving safety and productivity.
To ensure the safety of food and prevent food-borne illnesses, food processing facilities use chemicals when cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting machinery, equipment and surfaces. Many facilities also use chemicals as additives or preservatives during food processing. Workers who come in contact with chemicals need PPE with appropriate levels of chemical splash protection, and if working with greasy foods or surfaces, they also need a confident grip. Ansell’s industry-leading chemical protection portfolio includes food-safe nitrile, neoprene and PVC solutions with varying levels of chemical resistance against acids, caustics, greases, animal fats and other chemicals.
Ovens, fryers, heat sealers and other equipment used for cooking and food preparation expose workers to extremely hot surfaces and the risk of serious burns. In addition to cooking equipment, hot water and steam are common causes of injuries in food processing facilities. Ansell's heat and thermal protection safeguards food processing workers from burns without compromising comfort or dexterity.
Cold rooms are commonly used for food storage and preparation. Food safety guidelines generally dictate that cold rooms should maintain a temperature below 40°F. Ansell offers a wide range of solutions for food processing workers with prolonged exposure to cold rooms, refrigerators and freezers to keep hands warm while maintaining dexterity in cold temperatures.
Most food processing operations require workers to stand in a single location and perform repeated tasks for hours each day. Repetitive movements can lead to musculoskeletal diseases. Ansell’s propriety ERGOFORM™ Technology is designed to support musculoskeletal health during repetitive tasks by reducing stress on joints, ligaments and tendons with an ergonomic fit to ensure superior comfort and maximum range of motion.
As a result of COVID-19, workplaces must consider the need to protect against the spread of illness and viral infection. Ansell offers a wide range of solutions that comply with the World Health Organization’s guidance regarding infection prevention and control. In order to make an informed decision, product purchasers and users should stay abreast of the latest and most complete information regarding appropriate PPE to protect against COVID-19 and other viruses in their specific environments and applications.

Tools & Resources

Canada Food Safety Webinar & Panel Discussion

Experts, including Dr. Bizhan Pourkomailian, the Global Director of Food Safety at McDonald's, discuss the impact of COVID-19 on safety and sanitation protocols, particularly within the food industry in Canada.
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Food processing and services

Most instances of cross-contamination are preventable

Cross-contamination risk is a major concern in the food supply chain. The transfer of potentially deadly bacteria, viruses or other toxic substances from contaminated foodstuffs or surfaces can have catastrophic outcomes, so minimizing the likelihood through adherence to solid food safety practices is essential.
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(1) United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 2017. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-markets-prices/processing-marketing/manufacturing/
(2) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag311.htm