Clean-out-of-place (COP) systems: Equipment is disassembled and placed in a tank to allow it to soak. A pump is sometimes installed—or air can be introduced—to agitate the solution. Time is critically important with a COP system because the dwell time and amount of agitation are both important, as is the chemical dilution. As in CIP systems, a non-foaming chemical product is used.
Sanitation equipment is the best laborsaving 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.
Central foam/sanitize systems: These systems offer one of the best methods for cleaning and sanitizing in a food processing facility. All of the chemistry is placed in a locked room, along with pumps that automatically dispense the chemistry. Usually Dosatron or Dosmatic water-driven pumps are used. From the locked chemistry room, the chemistry is pumped to foam/sanitize drop stations throughout the plant using Schedule 80 piping. The installation costs are low, chemical safety and economy are achieved, and labor costs are reduced. Maintenance, if needed at all, is minimal, because there are no moving parts. A central foam system can be readily installed in either a new plant or an existing facility.
High-pressure systems: These systems are best used for cleaning outside areas, forklifts, pallets, loading and receiving docks, and, in some cases, plastic and stainless steel interlock belts. Used in a food processing area, a high-pressure system can create a false sense of cleaning efficiency, and safety can become an issue. This type of system can spread organics from one area to another, transporting bacteria on the spray to previously cleaned areas. Accurate dilution of chemistry is only achieved to a distance of six inches from the nozzle; beyond that distance, the pressure is substantially reduced.
Selecting Sanitation Equipment
The purpose of a cleaning and sanitizing system is elimination of the food source for pathogens and removal of 99% of the resident population of bacteria. To make the appropriate selection of equipment, carefully evaluate your answers to these questions:
- How much labor will this equipment save?
- Will sanitation staff complete their work more safely? More easily?
- What is the cost of the equipment payoff in terms of turnaround time for production?
It is important to remember that when a chemical supplier offers “free” equipment if you use their chemicals, it probably isn’t really free. Someone has to buy the equipment and maintain it in good working order. You must buy the equipment, lease it, or prorate the cost of the equipment into the cost of the chemical in price per gallon versus dilution rate.
If you are planning a change in your sanitation system and you have the support of everyone involved, you are on your way to a food safety and sanitation program that is truly the best it can be.
Now for a few questions, the answers to which will appear in my next column:
- What is a foam tank?
- How would you design a central foam/sanitize system?
- Where would a hand foamer be a good choice for cleaning?
- Describe a COP system and how it might best be used. ■
to the Last Column’s Quiz
Q: What department in the plant does sanitation answer to?
A: Quality assurance.
Q: Name four food contact surfaces.
A: Stainless steel, rubber, plastics, and fiberglass.
Q: What is the definition of soil?
A: Soil is food product or residue that does not belong on the contact surface.