Colour Code Your Way to Compliance

No matter what language a person speaks, colour is the same for almost everyone. That is what makes colour so great, it is universal. If you associate certain rules and specific standards to the use of colour in a food production environment and communicate these effectively, everyone will be able to understand, ultimately making compliance much easier.

Colour coding is a very effective way of managing food safety risks in any production environment. It assists in maintaining hygienic standards as well as the prevention of incorrect tools being used in production areas, minimizing the risk of cross-contamination. If something is out of place it will be much easier to identify when a colour coding system is implemented. That is why one will seldom come across an institution that does not implement some sort of colour coding program.

Simply implementing a colour coding program does not in itself ensure the quality of the end product, and therefore colour coding programs need to be well-planned and executed, in conjunction with the rest of the food safety program. Colour coding programs will often include multiple colours, based on the complexity of the production environment.

When developing a colour coding program there are certain factors that need to be taken into consideration to ensure that the program is effective and contributes to overall food safety rather than compromising it. The program should however, not be over complicated the key is to keep it simple and easy to adhere to.

  1. Food contact Equipment vs Non-food contact equipment
  2. Product Handling Areas vs Non-Product Handling areas
  3. Clean & Dirty areas
  4. High Risk / Low Risk
  5. Allergens
  6. Halaal
  7. Glass Breakage


(Image source: FBK)

Cleaning equipment can be the leading cause of contamination of food products in the industry. If your cleaning equipment is dirty, you run the risk of contaminating everything it touches. Imagine trying to paint a white wall with a pre used brush that has green paint, that hasn’t been cleaned – You’d end up having a light green wall. Therefore when cleaning, it is imperative that the correct cleaning tools are used in order to prevent cross contamination. This translates into equipment that is hygienically designed, chemically resistant and can be cleaned in high temperatures. There should also be various designs available, allowing for effective cleaning of different types of machinery. As the saying goes “you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.” The same is true for your cleaning equipment.

Mitigating cross-contamination can also be enhanced by effective storage. Using colour coded hooks and wall hanging systems to store equipment is recommended and there should be no contact between equipment used for floor contact and food contact surfaces when stored, also make sure the brush head faces down, preventing cross contamination of the brush handle. If your program asks for even more control, the use of customized shadow boards is highly advisable as it also enables one to immediately be aware should any equipment be misplaced. When using shadow boards be sure that the material is approved for use in a food production environment.

Should you need assistance in developing a colour coding program for your facility, refer to your equipment supplier as they should be able to provide you with the necessary information and help you with a tailor-made solution. Be sure to get advice regarding the correct application for food processing equipment and that all needed documentation, such as FDA approval, is provided for each product.


  1. Food Quality & Safety – Farm to fork safety. Incorporating a Color-Coding Program February 18, 2014. By Cristal Garrison.
  2. Food Engineering. Food Safety: Color contributes to safe, efficient food production.
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One Comment

  1. Khensani-Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    That is the best way,doing it right for the first time.

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