Minimising Contamination in Catering Environments with Resin Flooring


It’s not just food manufacturers that can take advantage of the hygienic properties of resin floors to clamp down on foodborne illnesses, as it can also be installed in catering and kitchen areas. In some countries it is at this point that the harmful microorganisms are most likely to enter the food chain and in South Korea especially foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurant and school meals have increased significantly with the development of the food service and restaurant industries.

To avoid foodborne illnesses stemming from food businesses including those involved in catering, food production, food preparation, retail premises, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and fast-food shops, the WHO recommends using the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, which sets out the criteria required to maintain a clean and efficient facility.

The design and maintenance of any area involved with the processing, cooking storage or transporting of foodstuffs needs to be carefully considered to effectively minimise the possibility of contaminants spoiling the products and causing illness.

This means analysing each component of the operation, including the equipment, building layout, production methods, cleaning routine, construction materials, pest control and, crucially, the floor.

The choice of flooring is an often overlooked consideration, but it plays an important hygiene role, as the majority of germs, bacteria and dirt will end up on this surface, meaning it is a prime site for contaminants to accumulate. If the floor is not easy-to-clean and durable then harmful microorganisms could easily thrive, especially if the surface deteriorates and cracks, as it is very difficult to remove pathogens from the area once this happens. 

The HACCP’s advice for the structure of all food establishments is that they are “soundly built of durable materials” as well as being “easy to maintain, clean and where appropriate, able to be disinfected”. The guidance states that floors specifically should be “made of impervious materials with no toxic effect” as well as “constructed to allow adequate drainage and cleaning”.

This means that the choice of flooring is essential to ensuring it meets all of these points, as any surface that is weak, difficult to clean or porous will not meet this standard – and even if it is adequate when initially installed it needs to be able to withstand the on-site conditions without deteriorating, which would make it fail to meet the required standard later in the buildings life. 

Floors constructed from resin materials provide commercial catering clients with reliable surfaces that deliver the properties outlined in the HACCP guidance. The smooth finish of a resin floor means that it is easy to remove dirt and bacteria from a room, whilst its durability ensures the floor will be able to stand up to the heavy impacts, foot and wheeled traffic, chemical corrosives and temperature changes found within the kitchen environment.  

Resin solutions are an ideal way to ensure a seamless finish, which is a significant advantage when trying to achieve a high hygiene standard, as it makes it very easy to wash and leaves few spaces for germs to multiply unseen. 

Coving or cleanable sealed junctions can be added into a resin floor design to provide a seamless transition from the floor to wall, covering up a potentially hazardous gap. 
The durability of resin solutions is highly advantageous for a number of reasons. Not only does it provide the day-to-day operational activity with a safe platform to work on but it also avoids the need for costly refurbishments and repairs by retaining its hygienic finish for the lifetime of the facility. A weak surface, unable to cope with heavy impact, corrosives or demanding use can fail in a number of ways, by cracking, softening, dusting or becoming porous – all of which will work against the on site cleaning regime and leave the facility exposed to harmful contaminant build-up.

The adaptability of resin floors means that food catering clients can tailor the solution to suit them, whether it’s to provide enhanced protection from anticipated production demands, improve employee safety or to cope with challenging substrate conditions.

There are three main types of resin floor, each with different properties, which can provide particular benefits. Prior to choosing a solution clients should talk to a flooring expert to ascertain the best system for a specific location. 

One of the most popular resin flooring systems found in commercial kitchens is cementitious polyurethane. The high cross-linked density of this system is a particular asset as it means it can withstand prolonged chemical attack, which is a typical occurrence in the food industry, as organic acids, alkalis, hot oils, salts, blood, sugars, fats and cleaning chemicals are all normal environmental factors. 

All of these corrosive substances could potentially end up on the floor, and will eat into the surface if it is not suitably resistant. When choosing a floor it is important to fully understand the type of exposure it will face, the temperature of the chemicals the floor is likely to encounter and the nature of the contact (immersion, intermittent spillage or infrequent contact). Check the floor’s supporting data to find out if it can resist the level of exposure it will face after installation. 
Unlike other hard flooring systems, polyurethane resins are also highly effective at coping with thermal shock and thermal cycling without cracking or delaminating. Thermal shock occurs when the floor is subjected to extreme changes in temperature, often during hot water cleans, and thermal cycling is when the floor’s temperature fluctuates slowly over time. 

Both thermal shock and cycling cause the concrete substrate to expand and contract and if the flooring system above the substrate does not move in the same way then it can create substantial cracking. As cementitious polyurethane has a thermal coefficient of expansion similar to concrete the floor will move with the substrate, avoiding any cracks from appearing. 

An alternative resin solution is methyl methacrylate (MMA), which can provide the same seamless, hygienic finish as cementitious polyurethane but has a particular performance advantage during installation. MMA systems have much faster curing speeds, in some cases down to only two hours, which means that facilities can quickly install the floor and then move on to the next stage of construction or quickly return to service after a refurbishment. 

The other type of resin floors is epoxies, which offer a limited resistance to organic acids. However neither MMA or epoxy solutions are able to withstand thermal shock as effectively as cementitious polyurethane. This means that they are less suitable for hardier catering environments but are useful in assembly areas, light-duty catering areas or offices, as they don’t face the same abusive conditions. 

Resin systems also allow for the inclusion of additives that upgrade the working environment. This includes anti-microbial agents that further minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses by eliminating up to 99.9% of bacteria on the floor’s surface. This additive enhances a facility’s hygienic credentials by working alongside the on-site cleaning regime to ensure the safety of the produce and to reassure consumers and health authorities. 

Bacteria build up on the floor isn’t the only cause of harmful pathogens entering catering facilities, as undesirable movement around the building can transport microorganisms between areas. For example a person might move from an unclean area to a clean one – cross contaminating in the process 

Clever navigation of employees and in some instances customers, around a building limits the risk of cross-contamination. The wide range of colour options available with resin solutions means that the floor can be used to designate different zones and signage can be easily incorporated into the finish to aid navigation around the complex. 

Flowcrete India Private Limited
“Ganesh Towers”, Door no: B-1, 1st Avenue,
Ashok Nagar, Chennai - 600 083.
Tamilnadu, India.
Tel: +91 44 4017 6600.