Eliminating Food Contamination
Recent media coverage has highlighted the damage that a non-conformance or gap in your quality control system can have to a company’s reputation.
Hair contamination is known to be one of the main causes of consumer complaints. Today, it is easy for consumers to post negative images and comments on social media, this can have a disastrous effect on a brand. Bad press can seriously and quickly effect customer relationships which could end in disaster. So in our pressurised schedules, should we take some time out to eliminate the risk in a controlled, pro-active way before a major incident?
Hair Contamination: The Cause
Hair contamination is caused by natural shedding which is around 40-130 hair shafts per day, figures courtesy of Professor Barry Stevens FTTS, President of the Trichological Society, 2016-16. Modern hair care practices significantly increase the amount of hair that is loose on our heads. The use of hair drier, straighteners, colorants, perming and bleaching cause hair shafts to blister leading to severance, creating shorter loose hairs.
What’s The Risk?
According to Professor Stevens, hair cannot be eliminated as disease carriers. Furthermore, hand contact with the scalp during food production is likely to act as a disease carrier. Genus Staphylococcus Aureus, one of the pathogens known to cause food poisoning is often present on the scalp. Therefore a complete covering of the scalp is needed.
How Effective Are Your Coverings?
The BRC states that you should "fully contain all scalp hair to prevent product contamination this includes snoods for beards and moustaches, where required."-Section 7.4 .2 – personnel.
Both HACCP International and the University of Bolton, undertook in-depth testing to assess the effectiveness of hair coverings. Independently they came to the same conclusion, that the mob caps submitted failed the certification process. According to Professor Subhash Anand MBE, Professor of Technical Textiles, University of Bolton, “non-woven fabrics such as those used in mob and bouffant caps should not be used as a hair barrier fabric - it will neither hold the head of hair nor grip the hair that protrudes through - it’s a totally unsuitable material.”
The only products that passed the certification process and are recommended by HACCP International are products under Aburnet’s HairTite, KleenCap, HairTite Lite and Tek-Chef brands. Importantly there are products for different areas such as neck, beard, arm, nape amongst others as it is not just the scalp that poses the risk. For instance, beard hair can be an involuntary target of touch posing a significant risk.
A Comfortable Headwear - Is It Possible?
A comfortable headwear to ensure staff are happy and not distracted while reducing contamination. Head coverings can be hot and uncomfortable to wear, non-woven products limit the release of moisture. The products elastication is critical; too loose or too tight prompts the user to fidget, abrasion on the head increases the risk contamination. Furthermore, if the wearer touches the scalp this can transfer bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus.
A lightweight, breathable fabric is needed. Products that include StayCool technology promote wicking which takes away moisture from the scalp leading it to evaporate into the atmosphere, keeping the wearer comfortable. Industry need a product that is a one size fits all. But with each individual having different head size, hair styles and hair thickness it is difficult to achieve correctly. Aburnet’s specially designed structure means it lightly recoils depending on the user, still creating contact point with the hair.
Training and Auditing
The global food industry often employs many temporary staff, with a significant proportion of migrant labour making training more difficult. Aburnet have developed free online visual training and auditing tools. National retailers and producers want to see evidence of an effective hair containment policy as stipulated by the safe food organisations this tool allows that.
View our complete training guide and reduce complaints by up to 80%.