That's the opinion of Susan Werro, spokeswoman for the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology and a food technologist and assessor with long experience, including 15 years working within the food industry itself.
Werro previously worked in laboratory management, food technologist, food safety and hygiene roles for companies such as Greencore, Nestle and Lyons Seafoods.
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com, she said several root causes commonly led to hygiene and cleaning issues. "The first is production pressure: not getting enough time to clean. It takes x number of people x amount of time to clean a plant properly.
Chemical cleaning agents
Another big problem was incorrect application of chemical cleaning agents, Werro told this site. "People not dosing correctly or not keeping accurate cleaning records.
"There's still an awaful difficulty for companies to make up doses. Everyone cuts corners occasionally, but it has huge implications in terms of whether you are killing bacteria off.
"Maybe cleaning instructions have never been looked at because people tend to be trained on the job, then carry on with how they have been cleaning for many years."
One way a lot of bigger companies kept on top of correct detergent use was by employing contractors to handle correct dosing and application methods, she said. "It's usually quite difficult to get good hygiene people. People are using contractors a lot more to plug the gap."
However, she said there needed to be sound dialogue between contractors and food manufacturers, so that the contractor sufficiently understood production practices and schedules, which varied from site to site. These could have a profound impact on the order of cleaning tasks and even the type of materials used.
Changing chemicals used to clean plants was a huge upheaval, often doubling the amount of work involved, because manufacturers had to test whether the new substances were killing off pathogens. That meant they had to clean areas with the new materials first, take samples, then implement tried and tested procedures.
Getting the order of cleaning tasks right was a stumbling block for some companies, she said. Common issues included cleaning equipment and surfaces after cleaning floors, causing debris to fall on areas that had already been cleaned.
Other problems included not thinking through line changes sufficiently in cases where allergen cross-contamination was a core issue or where factories were switching between standard and, say, halal products.