Acid-anionic sanitizers are surface-active sanitizers. “These formulations include an inorganic acid plus a surfactant and are often used for the dual function of acid rinse and sanitization,” Dr. Schmidt wrote.
Fatty acid (carboxylic acid) sanitizers were developed in the 1980s. “Typical formulations include fatty acids plus other acids (phosphoric acids, organic acids),” he wrote. “These agents also have the dual function of acid rinse and sanitization. Fatty acid sanitizers have a broad range of activity, are highly stable in dilute form, are stable to organic matter, and are stable to high temperature applications.”
Peroxyacetic acid (or peracetic acid, PAA) is effective against yeasts and molds. “Many large juice processors employ peroxyacetic acid for clean-in-place (CIP) applications.” PAA has been known for its germicidal properties for several years. “PAA is highly active against both gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms. The germicidal activity of PAA is dramatically affected by pH. PAA solutions have also been shown to be useful in removing biofilms.”
Peroxides or peroxy compounds are divided into two groups. One is the inorganic group, which contains hydrogen peroxide (HP) and related compounds. The second is the organic group, which contains PAA and related compounds.
Predominately used in the medical field, HP has found limited application in the food industry. The FDA has granted approval for HP use for sterilizing equipment and packages in aseptic operations. “HP is fairly broad spectrum with slightly higher activity against gram-negative than gram-positive organisms,” Dr. Schmidt wrote. High concentrations of HP can cause eye and skin irritation.
Sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) provide specific, written procedures necessary to ensure sanitary conditions in food plants. Many food company SSOPs contain extensive guidelines for the proper handling, storage, and usage of chemical sanitizers.
All too often in in-plant training programs, management will use these written documents to deliver all-important chemical sanitizer training to employees, usually in classroom settings. For members of the cleaning and sanitizing team, this outdated training mode fosters little interaction among participants—a universally acknowledged key to successful training—and can be highly tedious for both facilitators and students.
To avoid this training pitfall, food plants should actively seek to collaborate with their chemical suppliers to design and present continuous, on-site training programs. Growing numbers of chemical suppliers have dedicated education specialists who can conduct in-plant training on subjects ranging from proper chemical handling techniques to the importance of understanding labeling directions.
By nature, many chemical sanitizers are toxic, a fact that underscores the importance of proper personal protection equipment and sufficient knowledge for employees to protect themselves from simple workplace mishaps and major hazards.
Three vital factors—concentration, temperature, and contact time—affect the effectiveness of chemical sanitizers. The ability of employees, who often have varying educational levels and cultural backgrounds, to comprehend labeling instructions is critical in assuring that the manufacturer’s instructions are followed.
In today’s workplace, food plants struggle to find the time and expert resources to provide employees with all-inclusive, in-plant training. Building a relationship with chemical suppliers is a productive strategy for companies needing to support and improve their sanitation training initiatives.
Williams is senior communications specialist and Gonzalez is the director of technical services for Silliker Inc. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Marriot NG, Gravani RB. Principles of Food Sanitation. 5th ed. New York: Springer Science and Business Media Inc.; 2006.
- Schmidt RH. Basic elements of equipment cleaning and sanitizing in food processing and handling operations. Gainesville, Fla.: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension; 1997. Available at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FS077. Accessed October 21, 2009.