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For food processing facilities, use only food-safe chemicals

Contamination and the chemicals used to clean it up – both can damage the product of fish, meat and chicken processing plants. In this article, Deepak Gupta, Director – Institution, Satol Chemicals Pvt Ltd takes us from challenges to recommendations.

Hygiene challenges

  • Biofilm formation: The organic residue from fish, meat and chicken can create biofilms, which are thin, slimy layers that harbor bacteria. Removing these biofilms requires thorough cleaning and sanitisation practices.
  • Cross-contamination: Such facilities must prevent cross-contamination between different products, as well as between raw and cooked items. This necessitates strict separation of processing areas, equipment and utensils.
  • High fat content: These products often contain high levels of fats, oils and proteins, which can accumulate on surfaces and equipment. Removing these residues effectively requires specialised cleaning procedures.
  • Odour control: Meat processing can generate strong odours that need to be managed to ensure a pleasant working environment and prevent odour contamination of other products.

FSSAI mandates

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): Facilities must implement GMP guidelines, including proper cleaning and sanitation protocols, employee hygiene practices, pest control measures and waste management.
  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): HACCP principles require identifying potential hazards, implementing preventive measures and establishing monitoring systems to ensure food safety. Cleaning and sanitation are integral components of an effective HACCP plan.
  • Microbiological standards: To limit the presence of harmful pathogens and ensure the microbial safety of processed products. Effective cleaning practices are crucial in achieving these standards.
  • Allergen control: Facilities must have procedures in place to prevent cross-contamination with allergens. This includes thorough cleaning of equipment, utensils and processing areas to avoid unintended allergen transfer.

Cleaning chemicals

It is crucial to use chemicals that are effective against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, while also being safe for food contact surfaces.

Facilities should use sanitisers approved by regulatory bodies for use in food processing environments. These sanitizers should be effective against the specific pathogens of concern and compatible with the facility’s equipment and surfaces.

  • The disinfectant accepted worldwide for this segment is Par Acetic Acid (PA with 5% and 15%).
  • For non-reachable and approachable areas, cleaning with chlorinated foam is best.
  • For manual cleaning, a more stable and effective disinfectant is advised.

Cleaning chemicals should be non-toxic, non-allergenic, and free from harmful residues that could contaminate food products. They should be designed for use in food processing areas and comply with relevant safety regulations.

Cleaning chemicals should not damage or corrode the surfaces they come into contact with. It is important to consider the specific materials used in fish/meat/chicken processing equipment and select cleaning chemicals accordingly.

Facilities should choose cleaning chemicals that have minimal impact on the environment. Eco-friendly options that are biodegradable and have lower toxicity should be preferred whenever possible.

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