My last article focused on sanitation training and the five basic steps for cleaning a food plant. In this article I address the pitfalls, as well as the results, you can expect when you implement a high-quality food safety/sanitation system.
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First, remember that changes are challenging. Despite this fact, we must be prepared to make changes in order to compete successfully in a global market. Change always occurs with growth, and growth is necessary if we are to thrive. I have seen many programs enthusiastically embrace necessary changes, and then, months later, fall back to doing things the same old way, making the same old mistakes.
There is no one-time fix-all for your sanitation program, and changes should not be made just for the sake of change. Evaluate your program and identify areas that need to be changed, be sure you are committed to those changes, and be vigilant that the needed changes are made. Management, quality control, sanitation staff, purchasing, and even human resources must all embrace the changes if they are to have a lasting effect.
Types of Sanitation Equipment
Sanitation equipment is the best labor-and material-saving system that we can implement in our plant. Because labor is 70% of the cost in sanitation, laborsaving devices actually save money when correctly implemented.
Handheld foamers and sprayers: This equipment is attached to the end of the water hose and has a feature that automatically dilutes the chemical product. This type of foamer is effective in tight places and is ideal for small plants, delis, and similar locations. The Hydro Systems foamer comes with a quick disconnect so that rinsing is more efficient. Use caution to ensure that the proper dilution tip is installed correctly, however; otherwise, chemical product could be delivered in too strong a concentration, pouring money down the drain. With sanitizers, proper dilution is of paramount importance to effectiveness.
Foam tanks: These are 15- to 30-gallon tanks that can be filled at a diluter and are charged with about 60 pounds of air pressure. Foam tanks are pressure vessels approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials and used to apply a single chemical, either for cleaning or for sanitizing. The tanks are particularly useful for applying quaternary products because their surfactants cause high foam quantity, allowing the quaternary to maintain a longer residence on radii and overhead surfaces.
Evaluate your program and identify areas that need to be changed, be sure you are committed to those changes, and be vigilant that the needed changes are made.
Foam carts: Foam carts are stainless steel carts that hold two five-gallon pails, one containing sanitizer and one with cleaning chemistry. I am most familiar with the foam cart made by Lafferty Equipment Manufacturing in Little Rock, Ark. It is a high quality foam/rinse/sanitizer unit with automatic chemical dilution. Because the unit covers an 80-foot circumference, it does not have to be moved as often.
Clean-in-place (CIP) systems: CIP systems are usually found in dairies, beverage plants, and other processing facilities where it is necessary to allow for cleaning and sanitizing without disassembling the equipment. One type of CIP system is designed and engineered by the Sani-Matic Corp. All CIP systems can inject chemical product at the prescribed dilution rate without any hand mixing. However, the chemistry must be carefully titrated on a bi-weekly basis to verify that the dilution rates are correct. The system must also be regularly inspected to ensure cleaning efficiency; performing micro-counts will ensure that it is operating at full efficiency. Only non-foaming cleaners and sanitizers are used in a CIP system. A foaming product would cause cavitation of the pump impellers, which would reduce the cleaning efficiency of the system.