The rule of thumb is that acid cleaners dissolve alkaline soils (minerals) and alkaline cleaners dissolve acid soils and food wastes. Improper use of detergents can actually “set” soils, making them more difficult to remove (e.g., acid cleaners can precipitate protein). Many films and biofilms require more sophisticated cleaners that are amended with oxidizing agents (such as chlorinated detergents) for removal.
Cleaning and disinfection may in some cases be combined into one operation using a sanitizer which has the action of both a detergent and a disinfectant. However, it is believed that the two-stage approach is more consistent and effective than the single stage sanitizer approach. It is important that non-scented chemicals are used in food operations due to the risk of taint.
Detergents can be significant contributors to the waste discharge (effluent). Of primary concern is pH. Many publicly owned treatment works limit effluent pH to the range of 5 to 8.5. So, it is recommended that in applications where highly alkaline cleaners are used, the effluent be mixed with rinse water (or some other method be used) to reduce the pH. Recycling of caustic soda cleaners is also becoming a common practice in larger operations.
The process of cleaning could be rather simple but the choice of cleaning chemicals, sanitizers, equipment and even tools is complex and requires knowledge of each product and its reaction with the soil. The is a vast subject and this article has put together basics in cleaning in a food unit.
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A high standard of hygiene is a prerequisite for safe food production, and the foundation on which HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and other safety management systems depend. Basically, food sanitation is protection from contamination. Regardless of type of processing or food handling operation, food sanitation depends on personnel hygiene. Personnel training includes appropriate sanitation principles and food handling practices, manufacturing controls, and personal hygiene practices.
Facilities required in the processing room:
• A changing room where clothing and shoes that are not worn for work can be stored.
• Separate hand-washing facilities for staff, with soap, clean water, nail brushes and clean towels or hot-air hand dryers. Handwashing facilities should not be used for washing equipment.
• Toilets, which should be separated from the processing room by two doors or located in a nearby building.
• First aid materials.
• Protective aprons or coats washed regularly, hats/hairnets, and if necessary, gloves and shoes/boots.
• Cleaning chemicals, stored away from the processing room.
• Wear a hat/hairnet that completely covers the hair. Do not comb your hair in a processing room or storeroom.
• Cover all cuts, burns, sores and abrasions with a clean, waterproof dressing.
• Do not smoke or eat in any room where there is open food because bacteria can be transferred from the mouth to the food.
• Do not spit in a processing room or storeroom.
• Wash hands and wrists thoroughly with soap after using the toilet, eating, smoking, coughing, blowing your nose, combing your hair, handling waste food, rubbish or cleaning chemicals. Dry them on a clean towel before handling food again.
• Keep finger nails cut short.
• Do not wear perfume or nail varnish as these can contaminate products.
• Do not handle any food if you have sores, boils, septic spots, a bad cold, chest infection, sore throat or a stomach upset. Report any of these to the manager and do alternative work.
• Do not cough or sneeze over food.