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Posted 11 June 2020 - 07:42 PM

Hello! (first time posting!)


My company is wanting to add an outdoor eating area as an option for breaks and lunches. 


The code states: Where outside eating areas are provided, they should be kept clean and free from waste materials and maintained in a manner that minimizes the potential for introduction of contamination including pests to the site.


With this guidance listed: The supplier may provide additional outdoor lunchroom facilities (e.g., picnic tables) where they do not pose a dust or pest hazard to the processing area of the site. Covered facilities and sealed paths are one way to address these hazards. Where hazards presented by such facilities are minimal, the supplier may employ alternative controls such as routine cleaning of tables and steps to minimize dust on non-sealed paths. Foot baths also provide another means to ensure that foot traffic does not bring dust or other contaminants into the processing area, if practical to do so.


We have a concrete area outside of the production employee entrance where we would like to place a few picnic tables. Should routine sanitation and cleaning logs be enough to show we are minimizing risk? The entrance back into the building has two sets of doors before you enter a halway into the building and then a very long hallway before you enter the production area through another (third) set of doors. 


Currently we allow employees to go to their cars on their breaks in the parking lot so I don't see this as being any more unsafe than that. Do any of you have experience with this issue?

I don't want to create a problem here but it would be nice for our employees when the weather is this pretty to be able to sit (socially distanced) outside. 


Thank you so much!


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Posted 11 June 2020 - 08:13 PM

Hello Andrea. It sounds like you've thought it through fairly well, you probably wont run into a problem as long as you:

  • Perform and document a risk assessment (include feedback from your food safety or HACCP team!)
  • Alert your PCO of the proposed area and ask them if there are any additional risks or steps they will need to take
  • Implement things you've found to mitigate risk during that assessment (this is where you would show you've implemented cleaning logs or updated current logs to cover the new area)
  • Add an inspection of the area into your monthly or weekly internal inspections (this will give you verification points that the steps you took to mitigate risk are effective and being followed, which can be rolled into validation that your risk assessment was correct)


An SQF facility I was practitioner in had a 'break trailer' which they used in lieu of a break/lunch room for several years. The SQF auditor would inquire about the above, inspect the cleaning logs, and then walk through the break trailer to inspect it themselves.


When you roll it out keep an eye out for food droppings and increased bird (or I guess rodent) activity. If you start seeing a lot of bird poop and nesting fix that early, once they get settled in it can be a nightmare to get rid of them.



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Posted 11 June 2020 - 08:20 PM

Firstly - welcome Andrea!


Second - yes, that would be fine.

Kind regards,
Glenn Oster
GOC BUSINESS GROUP | SQF System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants
Internal Auditor Training - eConsultant Retainer Subscriptions - Pre & Post SQF-GAP Audits - Consultant Training
Visit us @ http://www.GlennOster.com  or call us @ 772.646.4115 US-EST 8am-4pm Anyday except Thursday

The Food Scientist

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Posted 11 June 2020 - 08:26 PM

Hello Andrea,



My facility is SQF and we have outdoor lunch area. It's picnic tables and it's closed from two sides. 


Upon entry, there are sanitizing foot mats to clean the shoes from any dust or foreign material.

Cleaning is done daily after lunch and breakfast breaks by Sanitation crew and documented in the Master Sanitation Log. 

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.

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