Concept of Cleaning and Sanitization
Cleaning and sanitization is one of the prerequisite and key element for ensuring food safety and quality of product in food processing industry. Cleaning and sanitation are two different terms having different definition all together. Cleaning refers to the removal of visible dirt or any physical contaminant, while sanitization always comes after cleaning process and focuses more on the removal of any type of microbial contamination, if any.
Need of cleaning and sanitation is
- To prevent transfer of ingredients from same line to avoid chances of cross contamination in case of product change in line production line.
- To Avoid microbial contamination that lead to reduced product quality, harm to health or life threatening circumstances in some cases.
- To ensure sanitization efficiency as soils impacts the effectiveness of a sanitizer.
- To improve plant efficiency as dirt and dust affects production process as well.
Food soils (dirt): are unwanted matter on food-contact surfaces. Soil can be visible or can’t be seen visible. The primary source of soil is from the food product being handled. However, minerals from water residue and residues from cleaning compounds contribute to films left on surfaces. Microbiological biofilms also contribute to the soil buildup on surfaces. Types of soils can be fats, oils & greases, proteins, carbohydrates and starches, lime scale, rubber marks, corrosion deposits, adhesives, inks & dyes, algae and fungi.
Cleaning Areas: Apart from food contact surfaces various other parts of the plant are to be cleaned and sanitized to maintain a sanitary environment for food processing. Food Contact Surfaces (equipment surfaces, tables & preparation areas, conveyors, utensils, bins & totes, packaging materials), outside of equipment (body, pipelines) and environment (floors, drains, walls, light fixtures) require separate cleaning procedure. Equipment design and plant layout should be considered from a clean ability perspective. One needs to reach around and under equipment to clean it properly.
Sanitization: Foremost step for abiding the cleaning procedures are to make them available to everyone. Sanitization Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP’s) and instructions should be written step by step on cleaning equipment, process lines, environmental areas & master sanitation schedules. Sanitization can be achieved by various means either by thermal or chemical sanitization. Thermal sanitization involves the use of hot water or steam for a specified temperature and contact time whereas, chemical sanitization involves the use of an approved chemical sanitizer at a specified concentration and contact time.
Cleaning Procedure: Equipment classification can be done with regard to cleaning method as CIP (Clean in Place), COP (Clean Out of Place) and manual cleaning. Mechanical cleaning often referred to as clean-in-place (CIP) requires no disassembly or partial disassembly. Clean-out-of-Place (COP) involves partial disassembling and cleaning in specialized COP pressure tanks. Manual cleaning requires total disassembly for cleaning and inspection.
Different parts of the plant require different types of cleaners. For E.g. CIP system does not require cleaners that foam as much as manual cleaners. Sanitizers usually have a period of effectiveness that only lasts for several hours, so if you sanitize the equipment after cleaning it the night before, you may need to sanitize again just prior to processing. The selection of cleaning & sanitizing chemicals for use in a food processing facility depends upon soil type, surface type, method of cleaning being considered (CIP/COP/Manual) and water quality.
Steps for cleaning and sanitization include
- Dry Cleaning: simply using a broom or brush to sweep off food particles and soil from surfaces
- Pre-rinse: using warm water (100-120°F) to remove small particles missed in the dry cleaning step and prepares surfaces for application of detergent
- Wash: removes all soils by following all SSOP’s for cleaning procedures and chemical selection. Factors that are to be considered are time, action, concentration and temperature.
- Post-rinse: removes detergent and Chlorine. There can be acid rinse if required by using acidified water. Acid removes mineral and prevent mineral deposition as well.
- Sanitize: reduces the number of microorganisms on the surface. Before use the surface needs to be sanitized and pre requirement before sanitization is that surface should be clean and free of any form of dirt.
Facilities not cleaned regularly have potential safety risks due to constant spills & falls. It has positive finance response, by reducing waste from spoilage can significantly extend the life of equipment and machinery. The psychological benefits & confidence of clean, hygienic equipment & tidy surroundings have significant impact on both worker satisfaction and customer confidence. Although it may not be common knowledge, there are often legal requirements for food facilities to clean surfaces and equipment to a specific standard.