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Identification of risk in laundry processes

In a promised follow-up to The Textile Rental Services Association of America’s (TRSA) program in 2011, Hygienically Clean Advisory Council is convening to tighten the rules, evaluating processes of validations and presenting outcomes this month for the textile services certification programs it oversees, particularly for launderers serving healthcare, food safety, food service, hospitality and other businesses.

The textile services are expected to comply with the best laundry practices and microbial content limits on cleaned textile products before delivery to customers. The current revision is likely to include new Critical Control Points (CCPs) to Hygienically Clean Healthcare and Hospitality designations. CCPs are applicable to processes that pose higher bio-contamination risks. Compliance requires description of how such risk is controlled (eliminated or reduced). For example, washing is often considered a CCP. The inspection of proof-of-delivery reports generated by systems that inject liquid detergent into washers according to the proper formulas and monitor implementation of these formulas is said to control the risk.

CCPs are also part of TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Food Safety certification, addressing high demand from food manufacturers and processors for their suppliers to deploy hazard analysis and CCP (HACCP) concepts. HACCP is also part of hygienically clean food service and addresses restaurant and supplies hygiene.

The hygienically clean council has representatives from the laundry industry, healthcare and academics. They are considering how various washing, drying and finishing systems and functions might factor into CCPs. Controls might include additional microbial content testing of textiles at various stages of laundry processing, wash water, hard surfaces of machinery, storage and carts and hand hygiene requirements.

The council will merge its consensus with national standards-setting bodies in Europe, to modify continent-wide laundry protocols and thus address the country’s hygiene concerns.

Earlier this year, the Textiles and Textile Products technical panel of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) revised EN 14065, improving the standard’s guidelines for laundries in establishing their own risk analysis and bio-contamination control (RABC) processes. Individual nations’ CEN affiliates and their respective certifiers can add provisions to the Europe-wide standard similar to the Hygienically Clean requirements. August 31 is CEN’s deadline for its national affiliates to present EN 14065 to their constituencies. Neither TRSA’s norms nor EN 14065 specify the CCPs for laundry processes. The EN 14065 only distinguishes between basic and critical control points.

“Hygienically Clean’s approach of requiring launderers to apply general best practices but not mandating specific techniques fits well into the EN 14065 model,” says TRSA President and CEO Joseph Ricci.

Hygienically Clean, on the other hand goes on to specify microbial content levels for laundered textiles and laundry work surfaces without specificity on processes to achieve them. The recent European standard revision offers a framework without specific hygiene levels. Key additions besides CCPs, he says, include quantitative risk analysis (upgraded from semi-quantitative) and improved definitions of process validation, verification and monitoring.

“As before, the standard does not contain any specific requirement levels, leaving a lot of flexibility in terms of how principles are applied,” observes Eoin Flavin, the UK-based member of TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Advisory Council who directs wash chemistry supplier Washing Systems Ltd’s European operations. “We continue to need this flexibility to cater to different requirements in different sectors and countries.”

The TRSA and Hygienically Clean members are meeting in November, at Nashville, Tennessey at the TRSA healthcare conference. There they will put their heads together to identify the risk so as to protect the healthcare consumers and laundry.

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