Keeping your cold storage facility bacteria, virus and dirt free is vital to the safety and health of your employees, customers, products, and business reputation. For all cold storage sectors, from food and beverage to pharmaceuticals, cold rooms can be prone to mold, fungus, and other pathogens.
Developing a cleaning schedule to keep cold storage bacteria and dirt free should not only focus on the facilities refrigeration, but also on the often-overlooked insulated metal panels (IMPs) that comprise the cold storage room’s walls and ceiling.
The World Health Organization in its “Maintenance of refrigeration equipment” technical supplement says, “There are two elements of a cold store that require maintenance: the refrigeration equipment and the insulated envelope. Close attention should be paid to both of these elements. It is essential not to neglect the insulated envelope, although in the short term this might appear less important.”
Maintaining the Longevity of Cold Storage IMPs
One of the benefits of routine cold storage cleaning is that preventing bacteria and dirt build-up will preserve the structural integrity of IMPs.
The WHO says, “Maintenance programs usually concentrate on the cooling equipment and the insulated envelope is frequently neglected. A badly maintained envelope will only last for 15 years; with good maintenance it can last twice as long.”
Cold storage operators put a considerable financial investment into their facilities, so it pays to protect that with routine maintenance.
Green Span Profiles, cold storage IMP experts, says, “Like all building materials exposed to outdoor and indoor dust, dirt and grime, the panels should be cleaned to remove these particles. In addition, mold, mildew, and bacteria left on the panels can begin to deteriorate the surface coating. When this happens, the moisture and mildew can then get inside the metal panel and cause rot. In time, the structural integrity becomes compromised as the panel will need to be replaced sooner.”
Bacteria and Viruses Can Survive Cold Storage Temps
While you may think that cold storage would simply kill all bacteria, research has shown that some bacteria can survive, and even thrive, in extreme temperatures.
Researchers in Canada, for example, found a newly discovered bacterium, Planococcus halocryophilus OR1, thriving at 5 degrees in permafrost.
According to Live Science: “It's not the first time life has been found in permafrost conditions. Cold-loving extremophiles, called psychrophiles, are most often bacteria, fungi or algae. These hardy microbes have been found living beneath sheets of ice in Siberia and Antarctica, where temperatures range from 23 to 68 degrees.
Viruses also can survive the cold with Edward Bilsky, Ph.D., Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences telling Insider.com that “viruses are very durable organisms that can survive freezing temperatures.”
In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing a standard cleaning plan for your cold storage facility is even more important.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Cold Storage IMPs
While it is important to clean your cold storage IMPs, it is just as important to do it properly.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for cleaning cold storage IMPs.
When cleaning do:
- Clean the surface from top to bottom.
- Use clean water to rinse the surface thoroughly.
- Use a cleaner with a pH between 4 and 9.
- Follow manufacturer guidelines when using high-pressure cleaning tools.
- Remove any remaining dirt or stains with a non-abrasive cleaner.
When cleaning do not:
- Use cleaners with chlorine.
- Mix different cleaning products together.
- Use a steam cleaner which can damage the IMP coating.
When in doubt, always refer to the IMP product manuals and warranties provided at installation.
Developing a Cold Storage Cleaning Schedule
Perhaps the biggest danger to bacteria and dirt build-up in a cold storage facility is not wiping up or cleaning immediate spills. In addition to immediate cleaning of spills, daily, weekly and monthly cleaning and maintenance tasks should be established.
Daily Cleaning and Maintenance Tasks
- Spills cleaned up as they occur.
- Disinfect door handles and other high touch areas.
- Floor cleaning in high traffic areas.
- Rotation of stock.
- Regular temperature checks from multiple locations.
- Inspect evaporator for ice build-up.
- Check Freon levels
- Inspect compressors for oil leakage.
Weekly Cleaning and Maintenance Tasks
- Clean and check cold room door seals for any cracks or defects.
- Clean all floor surfaces.
- Rotate and organize products.
Monthly Cleaning and Maintenance Tasks
- Calibrate cold room temperature.
- Clean evaporator fins and casing, and all blowing fans.
- Check control valves and reverse blowing functions
- Inspect defrosting functions.
By following proper cold storage cleaning procedures and doing scheduled cleaning and maintenance tasks, cold storage operators can ensure the safety and health of their facility.
Contact Green Span Profiles today to find out about our state-of-the-art insulated metal panels for your cold storage needs.