Planning Makes Perfect

In the last issue we talked about the types of food technology, contact surfaces, cleaning chemistry and procedures. This issue we address time, schedules and basic sanitation equipment. When planning your cleaning and sanitation routine, start by quantifying time available for this process, then schedule the work and determine the manpower you’ll require. I recommend using the five-step process below to achieve the most efficient and effective results. Map out the five-step procedure for each piece of equipment to define the scope of the work and best allocate time and resources, such as manpower and use of sanitation equipment.


Pre-rinse all food contact surfaces and remove heavy particles of food residue and organics. This step is important because the cleaning product will be more effective with reduced organic challenge.


Apply the cleaning chemical at the recommended dilution rate. The most efficient method of applying the cleaning chemicals involves using an auto dilution system through foam applicators, a central system or similar technology. The bucket-and-brush method, which is still used, is neither labor efficient nor a cost-effective use of the chemical.


Hand detail and inspect as you clean the equipment. This step and the post-rinse are the most important steps. Keep in mind that bacteria must have food to survive, so without the total removal of organics, biofilms and organic residues will provide harborage and a food source on which bacteria can thrive. Inspect the food contact surfaces as you move along to ensure all food residues are gone.


Post-rinse: This is a crucial step in the sanitation cycle. Rinse the food contact surfaces and equipment thoroughly to remove all organic residues that have been detailed and chemically removed. Because cleaning chemicals have a high pH, the sanitizer will be ineffective without a thorough post-rinsing.


Applying the sanitizers: Dispense sanitizers using dilution rates consistent with the label instructions. The most effective way to consistently dilute a sanitizer is through an auto-dispensing unit. A sanitizer is considered a pesticide, so any violation of the label instructions is a violation of the Environmental Protection Agency rules governing sanitizers. If you use too much sanitizer, it must be rinsed off, which reduces the residual effect of the sanitizer. If you don’t use enough sanitizer, the bacterial kill will be less than desired, resulting in high counts.

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Make a weekly schedule, apply personnel schedule (the number of employee-hours required to clean a specific piece of equipment will determine how many personnel are needed to complete the task) to the schedule and use zone cleaning, where each zone has a work package that lists hours and people needed, the type of procedures, the sanitation method to be used and so forth. There are many complexities to the process environment, process equipment, production run time and return on investment that must be taken into account for the sanitation crew to be most efficient.

Write a cleaning procedure for each piece of equipment. Develop a plan or procedure needs to be developed to instruct personnel on how best to clean and sanitize each piece of equipment. A recipe for certain failure is to fill the plant with people, add chemicals, and allow the crew to just go to work without a plan. To be successful your team must work effectively and with a planned effort to meet production time frames.

Once you have defined the scope of the work and determined what sanitation equipment you will require, establish a zone cleaning plan to allocate time and number of employees to meet the production schedule.

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