By Sophia Daukus
Winery operators face many challenges unique to the industry – not the least of which is staying in full compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) sanitation standards. Especially in light of the FDA’s recent unannounced winery inspections, ensuring that the basics of sanitary facility design are in place can make all the difference. The type of flooring used can be key to maintaining hygienic, inspector-pleasing production areas and bottling rooms.
Spills of acidic fruit juice and wine, combined with busy foot, heavy cart and forklift traffic can quickly damage uncoated concrete floor slabs. Harsh, caustic chemicals, and the repetitive use of high pressure hot water washing, steam cleaning, and the powerful disinfectants used for a thorough cleaning of floor, equipment and work areas can put extraordinary demands on winery surfaces. It is imperative that the flooring system installed be high-performance and capable of standing up to these challenges over the long term.
With a history of success in food and beverage plants around the world, cementitious urethane (also known as “urethane concrete” and “urethane mortar”) flooring has proven itself to be one of the most effective types of materials for fermented and distilled beverage production facilities, as well as one of the best overall values. When well-selected and installed, this stalwart flooring is an outstanding performer in extreme F&B processing environments, protecting the concrete surface from day-to-day damage and helping to lessen the need for slab repair, restoration, or replacement down the road. In addition, cementitious urethane is one of the only types of industrial floor coverings with the ability to withstand thermal shock and thermal cycling, thanks to its Portland Cement component, which enables the topping to expand and contract at a rate similar to its concrete substrate. This characteristic allows even walk-in cooler floors to be steam-cleaned without fear of the floor material cracking, disbonding or becoming otherwise damaged.
Because cementitious urethane is virtually seamless, it can effectively help keep beer or wine-related liquids and by-products on the surface for proper clean-up, as opposed to their being absorbed into multiple grout lines, seams and cracks, where bacteria and pathogens can tend to flourish. Compare monolithic, heavy duty cementitious urethane flooring to various industrial tile products with their wall-to-wall matrix of potentially absorbent grout. When it comes to facility hygiene, the winner is clear.
Benefits of Fluid-Applied Flooring for Wineries
The fermented beverage production industry is being subjected to an increasing number of regulations for cleanliness and sanitation. Beyond FSMA compliance, durability, practicality, and appearance are all concerns. Customizable fluid-applied, resinous flooring systems provide exceptional benefits to winery and brewery operations, including:
- FDA and USDA compliancy
- Cutting-edge acid, alkali and chemical resistance
- Exceptional tolerance for moist/wet environments
- Outstanding compression strength to handle heavy loads
- Good impact and puncture resistance
- Ability to withstand thermal shock and temperature cycling
- Slip resistance can be installed per facility requirements
- Customizable colors, designs and safety markings
- Optional EPA-registered anti-microbial protection
- Availability of floor pitch correction for better drainage
- Option of integral cove base along wall for optimal cleaning
- Material is inert after fully cured, with no outgassing
- Zero VOC, low odor installation
- May be installed over “green” or damp concrete
- Rapid cure for fast turnaround
- Low lifecycle cost and excellent value
New FSMA Rules for Wine and Beer Production Facilities
As part of the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established new rules for the fermented and distilled beverage industry, and compliance has advanced to even higher levels of complexity. The FDA is expanding its inspection and surveillance activities, imposing new regulations on larger producers and requiring even the smallest operators to keep more detailed records. And while wine is considered to be low-risk for food safety, the FSMA rules are different for other products, such as table grapes, raisins and grape juice. It’s therefore necessary for individual owners to educate themselves fully on which of the new FSMA rules apply to their particular facility and operation.
Regardless of facility size, one of the most effective ways to help reduce the man hours needed for proper clean-up and compliant sanitation is to install a high-performance flooring system that meets government agency standards. The floor should capable of protecting the concrete substrate from damage, be simple to clean, inexpensive to maintain, and be properly selected and installed for a given facility’s conditions. Quality manufacturers of winery floor coatings can advise on the best value-based solution for various production areas, such grape receipt and pressing areas, filtering, fermenting, tank and other storage spaces, filling rooms, bottles storage and aging, as well as packing areas and shipping docks. The right winery flooring can go a long way toward pleasing visiting agency inspectors, as it helps enable good facility hygiene. A contaminant-free environment can be not only vital from a compliance perspective, but also supports the crafting of highest quality products.
Custom Designs for Tasting and Retail Areas
While production areas can be subject to a variety of food and beverage facility regulations, the floors in wine tasting rooms and retail areas must demonstrate excellent durability, good slip-inhibiting properties, easy maintenance – plus, great aesthetics. New hospitality and retail resinous flooring, now in a broad range of unique colors and finishes, can furnish the high performance needed, while contributing to the exciting design vision.