Concrete slab floors, ramps, steps, and loading docks make it easier to move produce and produce handling equipment using wheels. The smooth surfaces also allow for easier clean up and wash down at the end of the shift by providing an easy surface to sweep and hose down with good drainage (Callahan, Bihn, & Chamberlin, 2020).
Concrete is sturdy and hard once cured. It holds up to heavy loads in compression. But it is brittle which causes it to chip. It often fails in tension which causes cracks to appear. Concrete is also prone to pitting if exposed to acidic liquids such as can drip from bins of apples and other fruit. When concrete fails in the form of a crack or pitting it gets in the way of smooth operation and can also pose a personnel risk in the form of a trip hazard or uneven floor which could put rolling loads out of balance.
Cracks and pitting in concrete floors in food handling, washing, and storage areas can also pose a food safety risk (Ingram 2015, United Fresh 2018). The Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule highlights the need for design, maintenance, and cleaning of floors to provide sanitary conditions in §112.126 (FDA 2016, FDA 2018).
Cracks and pits prevent adequate drainage. Water, soil, and food build up cracks and pits during wash down and drying is inhibited. Water can accumulate in pits and cracks resulting in standing water. This can result in harborage points for human pathogens. In addition to human pathogens, plant pathogens may also find harborage in these locations resulting in increased product loss in storage.
If your produce or its container is placed on the floor, the floor can become a food contact surface increasing the need for attention to its cleaning and sanitization. Even if you are careful about keeping containers off the floor on pallets, splashing water from the floor can be a source of contamination. So, keeping a floor in good condition so it can be kept clean is important.