unbundling risks ebook from birko

Contract Sanitation: Do You Always Get What You Pay For?

Finding the right people to fill sanitation roles can be challenging. You’ve got to hire employees who are willing to work third shift, and the work can be tedious, yet you need experienced sanitarians who understand proper food safety procedures.

The tight labor market isn’t making the task of maintaining an in-house sanitation team any easier. It’s no surprise that many small-to mid-sized operations have no choice but to seek out contract labor for plant sanitation.

Something we recommend you avoid, however, is the tactic of bundling your labor and sanitation chemistry under one contract with a single company. Here’s why …

What is Bundling?

Bundling is a marketing scheme used in a variety of industries. Insurance companies may bundle home, auto and life. Telecommunication companies bundle phone, internet and cable. Even fast food companies bundle sandwiches, drinks and fries into combo meals.

People tend to like bundling because decision-making feels easier and it’s presented as a valuable package deal. But, the truth is, bundling tends to benefit the seller more often than the buyer.

Sometimes bundling means you pay for things you don’t want or need. For instance, does anyone really watch every single channel their cable subscription provides? Other times, bundling allows sellers to hide true costs because products and services aren’t billed separately.

In sanitation, there are organizations that combine contract labor with the chemicals needed to clean the plant. This takes some pressure off packers and processors and provides one consistent bill for sanitation. This seems very convenient, but there are potential downfalls to consider.

The Risks of Bundling Contract Labor and Sanitation Chemicals

Here are four main risks of choosing to bundle contract labor with food safety chemistry:

  1. Uncertainty around staffing: Some plant managers discover fewer workers than promised show up to clean the plant. A crew of 30 sanitarians is expected but only 20 come to work. Yet, you still pay a bill for the full crew.
  2. Uncertainty around chemical usage: Unless contracted crews are properly trained, can you be sure they’re using the right chemicals for the intended application? In some cases, managers of these crews are incentivized to use less chemicals, which could mean insufficient sanitation.
  3. Food safety event days: An inadequate number of workers, improper use of chemicals and untrained crews put you at risk for costly and reputation damaging recalls. Responsibility for an outbreak traced back to your facility lands on your organization, not the contract labor company.
  4. Loss of price visibility: When the bills for labor and chemical are bundled, you could lose the transparency and control that comes with separate, itemized invoices. While a consistent bill may make it easier to budget, no company wants to pay for something they didn’t receive. Plus, If your contract labor company is ordering chemicals, do you know how much are those products being marked up?

Is There a Better Way?

While Birko believes a proficient in-house team is best, we also understand that contracting sanitation labor is a necessity in some cases. So, is it possible to use contract labor to clean your plant and still achieve peace of mind surrounding food safety?

Get the information you need to guide you toward the right decision when you download our free report, The Dirty Truth About Contract Sanitation in Food Processing. In it we explore:

  • What happens at facilities that buy in to bundling?
  • How do potential benefits stack up against the risks?
  • Are there other options that can help your plant deal with sanitation challenges?
  • Can you still accomplish proper food safety using contract labor?

This knowledge can help you identify food safety strategies that protect you from the costly fallout of a recall while uncovering ways to improve efficiencies and reduce sanitation-related costs. Download the report and pass it along to decision-makers in your organization.

Contact Birko today with any questions you have on bundling or our solutions for protein further processing, produce/fresh cut processors and protein harvest.


Dave Premo, Vice President, Business Development, can be reached at DPremo@birkocorp.com or (720)425-8926.

Category: Produce Cleaning & Sanitation, Unbundling