If your supermarket serves ready-made food, incorporating a color-coding plan is going to be essential to ensuring your store is food-safe and ready for inspections. All too often, we hear of grocery stores that simply grab generic cleaning tools off of the shelf to get the job done. Oftentimes, this isn’t logged in inventory which can throw off accounting for the store but, more importantly, this can put the entire store at risk as household cleaning tools are far from FDA compliant. The last thing you want is for a food inspector find a stray bristle in a sample of prepared food or to discover that the same tools used for cleaning the floors might also be used for cleaning the food service bar.
While every supermarket color-coding plan is unique to the space, there are some general guidelines that can help you get started when it comes to drawing up a plan for your store.
1. Take note of any pre-determined zones.
Oftentimes supermarkets are laid out in zones already (i.e. the bakery as a zone, the meat department as a zone, the seafood counter as a zone etc.). If your location is already divided into zones like this, you'll most likely want to approach the bulk of your color-coding from a zoned approach where each area is assigned its own color. Tools used in that area for cleaning and sanitation should be color-coded to the appropriate color.
2. Consider whether or not food is prepared in your location and take note of food safety risks in the food you prepare.
If food is prepared at your location, it's important to consider implementing kitchen color-coding to help keep cross-contamination at a minimum. For example, if you color-code all of the utensils and cutting boards that come in contact with raw meat, red and those that come in contact with processed or cooked meat green, an employee can easily spot a utensil that is out of place. You'll also want to think about color-coding any potential allergens in the food preparation area. Common ones to consider are shellfish, milk, soy and wheat. most often, food products are assigned a color that contrasts with the color of the raw ingredient so that its easy to spot foreign objects that may have found their way into the food products.
If you have a hot or cold bar for serving ready-made food, you'll want to color code the tools use in this station to ensure that only tools meant to come in contact with prepared food are used.
3. Plan to use a separate color for floors and drains.
Floors and drains are critical areas to separately color-code. You wouldn't want the same scrubbing brush to go on your floors and then on your food prep counters. Most commonly, facilities designate black tools for cleaning floors and drains to ensure a sharp contrast to other color-coded tools that may be used in the store.
There's also the option to consider tools that are color-coded by zone but also specifically designated for us on floors and drains. In this case, might consider a handle that is color-coded for the department and a brush head that is color-coded to indicate floor and drain use. We also offer drain brushes that are black with a colored top.
4. Consider where you will store your tools.
Just as important as selecting the colors for your tools is deciding how you will store them. It's important enough that we've written a separate blog on this topic we encourage you to read. Simply put, tools are more likely be well-cared-for and are less likely to go wandering if they have a proper storage place. Wall racks and shadow boards are the best options for storing color-coded tools and you'' want to ensure you put them in the location nearby where the tools will actually be used.