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Consistency in maintaining cleaning systems is The Key to Hygiene

The new FSSAI Act has laid down standardized cleaning procedures to get the desired results. It also ensures science based standards for food safety and regulates the manufacture to ensure availability of safe food to the consumer. It is therefore imperative that the final product conforms to stringent qualitative tests. Cleaning in the plant is done in house. It is labour intensive plant except for the pumps and the cleaning materials used.

Says Issac Vas, Managing Director, “Quality control systems in the Mangalore plant has been stringently laid down. Sampling procedure and testing methods for Beverage, Syrup, Caustic Solution and Beverage Water has been specified. Cleaning and sanitation schedule is also laid down for various equipment like water treatment equipment, carbonator, filler, proportioning unit, syrup tanks, filter press etc. The laid down processes in the production manual and the system have to be followed diligently.”

Though, there is no specific area requirement in a plant vis-à-vis the capacity of the plant, FSSAI specifies the facilities that are required in terms of various aspects of food production. He further informs, “At Merge Plant, we are having a 120 BPM bottling plant for carbonated beverages with matching Pre-Mix, Chilling Plant, Filler & Crowner, Bottle Washer, Boiler and allied equipment & laboratory. At factory level, we have been following standard practices in production, usage of raw material and water treatment processes.”

Cleaning schedule and solutions

A strict sanitary schedule and procedure is followed in maintaining the plant and equipment. Hot Detergent and Stock sodium hypochlorite solution is prepared in house and used in the cleaning system. The contact time for hypochlorite solution and hot detergent is specified. All cleaning and maintaining procedure have been specified in the plant operation manual and checks and sampling tests are done at every level of production. The bottles are washed in a bottle washer using hot caustic solution & steam and rinsed with purified water before being fed into a conveyor for filling.

Purification Process

The water used for making the soft drinks and aerated water goes through several purification processes. The water is treated using hydrated lime to reduce alkalinity and reduce temporary hardness. Bleaching powder is used to remove colour and turbidity by iodising organic matter, to kill microorganisms, oxidise hydrogen sulphide, oxide fee iron and destroy taste & odour of water. Ferrous sulphate is used as a coagulant for quicker settlement of suspended particles.

The floc formed also acts as a preliminary filter due to its spongy nature. Calcium chloride reduces sodium alkalinity and is used where total alkalinity is higher than the total hardness. Soda Ash reduces permanent hardness and is used when total hardness in water is higher than total alkalinity. Batch Process of the water treatment is done and then water is sent through a sand and carbon filter to ensure dechlorination and filtration. This water further goes through micron filters and Millipore filter and then sent to the production.

Procedure for Cleaning and Sanitation

Back washing is done on alternate days with all the valves closed. Rinsing operation is carried out immediately after back washing. This operation is similar to regular service except that the effluent instead of going to the plant is drained out. This operation is carried out after backwash and/or before service.

Sanitizing is the next step in which Chlorine solution of 50 PPM is prepared and filled in the sand filter. After giving the contact time of about four hours, the chlorine solution is drained out. Water is taken in the filter and drained out till the smell of chlorine is removed. In open cover backwashing, the cover is the same except that the cover of the filter is removed and the waste water is allowed to overflow from the filter.

Once in a year the filter is opened and all the layers removed and cleaned thoroughly. The inside of the filter is painted with bituminous black paint and sanitized with 150PPM chlorine solution. Then the cleaned layers are arranged in filter according to sizes and cover fitted. It has to be noted that the entire layer must be cleaned with hydrochloric acid of 5 to 10%.

Carbon purifier

In this too the procedure includes back washing, rinsing and open cover back washing. Sanitizing of the sand filter is done by allowing the chlorine solution of 50 PPM to enter the carbon underbed through the bottom of filter. The small pipe near the shell is kept open. When the chlorine solution reaches the top of the underbed, chlorine solution flows from the pipe in the side. At that time the intake of chlorine is stopped. After a period of about four hours, solution is drained out and the layers cleaned with fresh water till the smell of chlorine is removed. In the procedure for changing activated carbon, the filter is opened and all the layers are cleaned minimum once in a year. The shell is painted with Bituminous black paint and sanitized with 150 PPM chlorine solution. The old carbon is rejected and a fresh batch of carbon is cleaned thoroughly to remove light particles and charged in the filter. The filter is backwashed before taking to service.

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