Water. It’s essential for life … and baking. But it can also pose huge risks, from physical hazards to bacteria transport, making it a key consideration for sanitation and food safety.

In the education session “Food Safety Best Practices for Operations, Engineers and Sanitarians,” Karl Thorson, global food safety and sanitation manager for General Mills, Minneapolis, boiled it down to two simple ideas: Treat water like glass, and make sure the facility is “dishwasher safe.”

Treating water like glass suggests water on surfaces and floors can be as dangerous as broken glass. And making a facility dishwasher safe means to make cleaning and sanitation as easy, accessible and repeatable as a dishwasher at home. It’s about matching the material to the facility design while also paying heed to the bacterial and safety risks that water can bring.

Thorson prioritized cleaning methods from the safest to the highest risk, ranging from no cleaning needed to flood cleaning, which he called “the worst of all evils” in the war on water.

One best practice he suggested was using scrap as a tool to abrade leftover material in the horizontal mixer as a first cleaning step, reducing the water needed in the full clean.

“Cleaning is extremely important and necessary in the baking process, but we want to do it as effectively and efficiently as possible,” he said. “My charge at General Mills is to reduce risk.”