Apparelmaster UK, a leading workwear rental provider, has instituted its own strict hygiene controls with the introduction of Gold and Silver Standards.

Said Martin Gregson, the company’s technical director, the concept can be traced back several years, when concern over food hygiene from listeria in cheese to salmonella in eggs led to a new Food Safety Act, placing the onus for action firmly on food processors and manufacturers.

“The act also signalled a move from direct liability to due diligence, so if something did go wrong, there was an opportunity for conscientious manufacturers to mount a defence, instead of being automatically prosecuted.” All Apparelmaster laundries operating to these levels are carefully designed. “Under the standards, all absorbent materials such as wood and cardboard, which could act as a source of residual contamination, are replaced by impervious, easily-cleanable materials. Crevices and ledges and sharp edges are avoided in favour of smooth curves,” said Mr Gregson.

“With any food connection, we have to be careful to exclude insects and animal pests—windows, doors and other access points are designed to be insect-proof and, as an added precaution, “insectocutors” are installed in the post-production area.” Under the standards, the water Apparelmaster uses in the washing process is carefully drained away, flowing from clean to less clean areas “and we ensure there is no access to drains from the post-production clean storage area”.

Even at the end processing, a tunnel finisher in the thermal wall of the post-production area provides final thermal disinfection of finished garments. Any air entering the post-production area is carefully filtered and air from earlier production stages is expelled. Operators use an airlock and go through washing/ changing facilities.

Mr Gregson said that staff are all trained in food hygiene to industry standards.

“Once garments have passed through the laundry cycle and are ready for despatch, hygienic procedures still have to continue. In transit, clean and soiled workwear is strictly segregated by physical barriers, with vehicle interiors, garment containers and laundry bags regularly disinfected. It is also important for us to ensure that workwear from different industries is rigorously separated.