Jump to content

  • Quick Navigation

Color coding for food containers, utensils and sanitation equipment

Share this

  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic
- - - - -

Frank from NJ

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Active
  • 20 posts
  • 1 thanks

  • United States
    United States

Posted 06 November 2018 - 04:01 PM

Good morning! I am wondering how some of you have structured your color code system for food contact containers and utensils, and for sanitation equipment within the different areas of the plant ( processing, packaging, warehouse, floor drains only,....), as our program is in need of revision.




  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 5,627 posts
  • 1541 thanks

  • Canada
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 06 November 2018 - 04:41 PM

White is for production ONLY direct food contact, you could add another colour here to keep RTE and NON RTE separate, I also include colour coding here for PPE 


Black/grey are for sanitation (perhaps purple or some such for drains)----unless you really need to, sanitation colours should be the same throughout the facility



I would use red in the dirtiest/closest to receiving area of the plant and get progressively lighter/brighter towards white as your product move through the facility

Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs

Thanked by 1 Member:


    Grade - AIFSQN

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 44 posts
  • 7 thanks

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Female

Posted 06 November 2018 - 04:42 PM

We have different colors depending on the surface that will be cleaned:

White: direct food contact

Yellow: non direct food contact ( equipment framework, etc)

Red: direct food contact with allergen

Blue: walls and floors

Grey: trash trays and containers


Purple: warehouse floors

Green: buckets for chemicals (manual cleaning)


Hope this helps

Thanked by 1 Member:


    Grade - PIFSQN

  • IFSQN Principal
  • 606 posts
  • 194 thanks

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Female

Posted 06 November 2018 - 05:54 PM

To me the simplest system I've worked with is to designate one color for food contact and one color for condemn throughout your facility as far as utensils and containers. If you have concern about brooms, etc. being removed from the designated area, simply number each broom/shovel/etc. and place the corresponding number on the wall next to their designated rack.  Coats should be a similar system - one color for those working on the line/with product and one color for those cleaning or handling condemned product (no handling of in-process products allowed).


I suppose it would depend on your process as to what would work. Traditionally you can buy two different colors of utensils you may need for product handling (such as white shovels/black shovels), and as far as designating utensils for floor, etc. - I guess I've only ever dealt with cleaning utensils (i.e. brooms, drain brushes) that could only be used for floor/condemn product, so proper handling of all these items was just written in our SOPs and generally understood that i.e. all brooms will remain on racks, don't touch product contact surfaces, etc.)

Thanked by 1 Member:


    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 1,418 posts
  • 1004 thanks

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Plant City, FL
  • Interests:Cooking, golf, firearms, food safety and sanitation.

Posted 06 November 2018 - 08:32 PM

It really depends on your facility and the products that you produce. When I first started here we had a dedicated room for producing gluten free tortillas. Brushes, dust mops, waste containers, etc. were all blue. Trash was grey.
Then we started producing gluten free pita chips in the same space, so nothing changed.
However, we then started producing gluten containing chips in the drying/seasoning area. So every time we produced gluten containing products, all the blue items had to be segregated and our normal facility color coded brushes, dust mops and containers had to be used.

Then, we started producing gluten free cookies in a completely separate section of the facility where gluten containing cookies are also produced on the same line. At that point it became out of control.
We do a full clean of the line prior to producing gluten free products, and test finished product for <10ppm gluten which is well below the required <20ppm. We don't bother with swapping out brushes (because they are not used in the process) and brooms (because if people are sweeping vigorously enough to get gluten on the products, there is more than gluten getting on the products). People working on GF lines wear different colored aprons than gluten containing lines, and they are routed away (as much as possible) from gluten containing production lines as they go on breaks, etc.

All that being said, you can use whatever color code you want. I've found that generally, white (buckets, containers, etc.) are used for direct food contact. Grey is used for rework/recycle and red for food waste.
Brushes and sanitation equipment add in additional complexity.

Find a system that is workable. Segregate your brushes and keep them clean. Be reasonable.
Since I am in a bakery and only really need to worry about allergens and gluten free/gluten containing products, it's a bit easier than say a facility that has raw and cooked products where various pathogens are a likely issue.



Thanked by 1 Member:


    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Active
  • 18 posts
  • 5 thanks

  • Australia

Posted 06 November 2018 - 08:48 PM



I would suggest you carry out your risk assessment for your loose tools and cleaning equipment based on the allergen/microbial/foreign contamination risks to food. Then you would be able to identify grouping and decide colour coding for food and non-food contact or Items used in High, Medium & Low risk areas.   

Thanked by 1 Member:

Gerard H.

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 411 posts
  • 131 thanks

  • France
  • Gender:Male

Posted 07 November 2018 - 08:27 AM

Dear Frank,


The art of the Color coding is to keep it as simple, and to use the less colors, as possible. Otherwise you will find the materials spread everywhere in your factory.


The system needs to be logical and to be an outcome of your food safety system, so that everybody can understand the need and the why of the different colors. 


Use the food safety team and involve the operators to make the choices for the new approach. They can immediately tell you if something will work or not. 


Kind regards,


Gerard Heerkens

Thanked by 1 Member:


    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 61 posts
  • 15 thanks

  • United States
    United States
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Hampshire

Posted 07 November 2018 - 06:09 PM

We have the following
Blue: Food Contact Surfaces
Green: Walls and Ceilings
Black: Drains Only
Red: Squeegee Floors Only

Thanked by 1 Member:


    Grade - AIFSQN

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 49 posts
  • 16 thanks

  • Earth
  • Gender:Female

Posted 08 November 2018 - 08:03 AM

Hi, I agree with ivesasis, you need to base your grouping on a risk-analysis of your main cross-contaminations risks.


Many said they use white for food contact, I would add : unless the food itself is white or light coloured! It's important to have a contrasting color to better detect foreign bodies. 

Thanked by 1 Member:

Share this

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users