Since the signing of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, many food processors have taken the proactive step of instituting a color-coding program as part of their food safety practices. Color-coding separates the tools used in one type of task or location from another, helping prevent tools from becoming sources of cross-contamination.

How Is Color-Coding Being Used?
Color-coding supports and strengthens the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan. HACCP is a management system in which food safety risks are addressed through the analysis and preventive control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards throughout the supply chain from food production to consumption. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “any action or activity that can be used to prevent, eliminate, or reduce a significant hazard” is considered a control measure. Color-coding is an excellent example of a control measure.

Once potential food safety hazards are identified, CCPs can be documented. FDA defines a CCP in a food manufacturing process as “a step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.”

Determining the Need for Color-Coding
Many factors can influence a processor’s decision to implement a color-coding system. Changes in
industrial design, compliance requirements, or a new manufacturing line can often be a first prompt. A few questions can help a facility determine if color-coding is the right choice for them.

1. Are there varying risk levels around the facility that require different tools for each?

2. Is there a chance of cross-contact between products with and without allergens?

3. Are harsh chemicals needed in some areas that would pose a risk to products in another area?

4. Does the manufacturing process need to be consistent from plant to plant?

5. Do auditors regularly inspect the facility, or is it considered to be a high-risk production environment?

Benefits of Color-Coding
Color coding’s main purpose is to separate and organize. This is especially important in the food industry where cross-contamination, allergen cross-contact, and cleaning chemical strength are all concerns. Using the closest brush at hand is a recipe for disaster—and a costly recall.

Tools can be separated by shift, purpose, allergen contact, and more for the following benefits:

1. Provide zone control. Different colors can be assigned to each step in the process or by manufacturing line. This will keep tools in their correct areas, working on the right surfaces.

2. Increase traceability. When colors are assigned to zones, confirming that a tool is misplaced is easy, and tracing it back to its point of origination is quick.

3. Divide workspaces. Each shift and each section can have their own color of tools to keep track of what goes where. This translates to fewer lost or misplaced tools and a lower maintenance budget.

4. Facilitates 5S. This organizational method is renowned for keeping facilities clean and tidy at all times—something that color-coding naturally supports.

5. Separate cleaning and sanitation. Heavy-duty floor cleaner is a necessity for plant floors and drains, but a brush that’s been used with it shouldn’t get anywhere close to food products. Separate colors for each are an easy visual cue that prevents such cross-contact incidents.

If you think color-coding may be right for your facility, download our whitepaper, “Making the Decision to Apply Color-Coding” to learn more, or contact our customer service representatives at or at 317.876.9856. Contact us today to schedule a complementary on-site consultation regarding color-coding opportunities.