One of the most valuable takeaways from the early audit data shared by BRCGS has been the importance of walls and doors when it comes to securing audit compliance.

Here at Klipspringer, we have spent over twenty years helping sites across the UK and Ireland to exceed their audit expectations and we wanted to provide further support by creating a guide to avoiding this common area of non-conformity.

Addressing five relevant clauses from Issue 9 of the BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard, this article will guide you through the process of ensuring your walls and doors are in keeping with the latest auditing standards.

What does the early BRCGS audit data tell us about the importance of Walls and Doors?

The top minor non-conformities

Early audit data from BRCGS indicates there are five minor non-conformities that are causing sites the most problems so far.

  • Clause 4.11.1 relates to the hygiene levels of a site’s equipment and premises
  • Clause relates to the use, storage, and handling of non-food chemicals
  • Clause 4.6.2 relates to the design and construction of equipment
  • Clause 4.4.8 relates to the condition and hygiene levels of a site’s doors
  • Clause 4.4.1 relates to the condition and hygiene levels of a site’s walls

As you can see, Clause 4.4.8 directly references doors and Clause 4.4.1 directly references walls. It is interesting to note that both clauses have the exact wording as when they originally appeared in Issue 8 of the Global Food Safety Standard, first published in 2018. This suggests, that despite the five years between the publication of Issue 8 and Issue 9, sites are still struggling to avoid non-conformities in this area.

The top minor non-conformities relating to hygiene

In a recent webinar with Klipspringer Director Alex Carlyon and Foram Mehta, the Global Standards Technical Manager at BRCGS, early audit data was also used to identify the top non-conformities related to hygiene.

  • Clause 4.11.1 relates to the hygiene levels of a site’s equipment and premises
  • Clause 4.11.2 outlines BRCGS expectations surrounding documented cleaning procedures
  • Clause 4.11.6 details the specific requirements for cleaning equipment
  • Clause relates to your site’s environmental monitoring programme
  • Clause 4.11.3 is centred on cleaning performance limits

With Clause 4.11.1, Clause 4.11.2 and Clause 4.11.3 applicable to walls and doors, three out of the top five hygiene-related non-conformities require you to take a closer look at this aspect of your operation. From the hygiene levels of your walls and doors to the way in which you validate your cleans, this is a prime opportunity for you to take a step closer to audit compliance.

Clause 4.4.1

"Walls shall be finished and maintained to prevent the accumulation of dirt, minimise condensation and mould growth, and facilitate cleaning."

You need to ensure the structure and material of your walls is hygienic – befitting of a food production site. Even if this was the case at the point of installation, your walls may have degraded over time, so it is essential that you conduct regular inspections to identify any areas where maintenance needs to be carried out. Ideally, you should ask your Hygiene Manager to accompany you, as your Hygiene Team will be the ones responsible for keeping the walls up to spec. Another vital step is to assess anything that is hanging on your walls. Have you opted for a hygienic mounting method or are there any harbourage points?

Clause 4.4.8

"Doors (both internal and external) shall be maintained in good condition."

The doors at your site need to be close fitting, sealed correctly and pest proof. They also need to be well looked after, with any maintenance carried out immediately. Another idea is to install self-cleaning antimicrobial door handles, levers, and push plates. Capable of killing 99.9% of bacteria, these handles could provide you with a hassle-free way to raise hygiene standards across your site. Finally, you need to ensure the correct doors are closed during production, as this could be another point of non-conformity. If your site struggles with this, a Wireless Monitoring System will allow you to automatically track door contact.

Clause 4.11.1

"The premises and equipment shall be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition."

It is essential that your operatives are using the right tools for the job. After all, a standard piece of cleaning equipment is unlikely to have the angles and ergonomics to effectively clean the walls and doors of your site. When it comes to the walls, condensation squeegees and high reach handles will prove invaluable. These utensils could also be used for smooth factory doors, with smaller detail brushes allowing you to clean around any handles or fixings. In terms of maintenance, your approach shouldn’t just be reactive, but also preventative. Your maintenance team should be protecting the integrity of your site at every stage.

Clause 4.11.2

"Documented cleaning and disinfection procedures shall be in place and maintained for the building, plant and all equipment." [EXTRACT ONLY]

If the walls and doors of your site don’t already feature heavily in your internal inspections, now is the time to address this issue. They should also be a key focus of your site training and Cleaning Instruction Cards. The detailed documentation of the cleaning and disinfection procedures at your site will educate and motivate your operatives – helping them to understand what an ‘appropriate’ wall and door looks like and what steps need to be taken to get there. The correct documentation will also reassure your auditor, as they will be able to check that the correct processes are in place and are being carried out on a regular basis.

Clause 4.11.3

"Acceptable levels of cleaning may be defined by visual appearance, ATP bioluminescence techniques, microbiological testing, allergen testing or chemical testing as appropriate." [EXTRACT ONLY]

The ATP bioluminescence techniques mentioned above can be used to validate the cleanliness of any surface, suitable for your walls and doors. If you already carry out ATP testing at your site, it is worth noting that the benchmarks for these surfaces will be higher, as they shouldn’t be coming into contact with your product. Another point to consider is that standard ATP tests are only able to detect ATP (a molecule found in all organic residue), whereas the A3 system can detect adenosine molecules in all three forms: ATP, ADP, and AMP – even after a surface is exposed to heat and cleaning chemicals.

That brings us to the end of our guide to avoiding the non-conformities relating to the doors and walls of your factory. As with any matter of audit compliance, the process will be ongoing and will require the cooperation of your operatives. You will also be tasked with taking a closer look at your site – identifying the areas where you are operating effectively, along with any areas where there is room for improvement.

If you would like our support with this process or would be interested in learning more about the solutions mentioned in this article, you can contact us on 01473 461800 or Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form below and one of our friendly team members will be in touch. 

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