As consumer awareness of product quality and allergens increases, equipment sanitation is more important than ever in food processing facilities. Companies must stay proactive to minimize the risk of biological, chemical and physical hazards, as well as adhere to rising food safety regulations.
By selecting hygienic equipment that’s easy to clean and adopting practices that ensure production lines are thoroughly cleared during changeovers, processors can better protect their own brands, customers and consumers.
How to Effectively Clean and Sanitize Equipment
There are countless factors that impact cleaning and sanitation. Here are four tips to consider:
1. Follow the TACT guidelines: Time, Action, Chemicals and Temperature
Originally developed by Herbert Sinner in 1960, the TACT circle outlines the elements needed to successfully clean equipment surfaces. First, appropriate time must be dedicated to follow cleaning protocols. Second, mechanical action is required, such as manual scrubbing or water pressure. Third, the appropriate chemicals in the correct concentration and sequence are necessary for sanitizing. Lastly, the water and/or chemicals must be the ideal temperature.
2. Select hygienic equipment and tools that are easy to clean
One of the most effective ways to control bacteria and eliminate allergen contamination is by utilizing easy-to-clean equipment with inherently hygienic designs.
At Key, all our equipment is designed with cleaning and sanitation in mind. To help ensure no product gets hung up or bacteria is harbored, product handling systems include features such as 100 percent continuous welds, no-pinch dropout gates, stainless steel motors, self-draining surfaces and the elimination of laminations that can trap bacteria.
3. Continuously train employees in cleaning and sanitation routines
To maximize sanitation, operators should learn how to properly use and clean the equipment, react to contamination alarms and avoid tampering with automated cleaning programs. Management should be proactive about monitoring activity on the plant floor to ensure the correct procedures are being followed and working effectively.
In addition to training new staff members, food processors can schedule yearly trainings to help refresh employees on protocols and provide updates. Our service team offers online and instructor-led training for our equipment, HACCP and more. These comprehensive courses provide options that fit a variety of schedules and budgets.
4. Automate routine cleaning tasks, when appropriate
Food processors of all types are increasing the level of automation in their equipment cleaning procedures. Programming pre-set water temperatures, cycle times, chemical concentrations and more erases guesswork and avoids inconsistencies.
For example, Key’s CleanBelt clean-in-place (CIP) system on ADR EXOS for potato strips continuously removes starch from the ADR belt to prevent build-up, which improves sanitation, reduces labor, minimizes the cost of replacement parts and helps maintain optimal performance throughout the production cycle.
Strong cleaning and sanitation protocols are essential for a superior food safety program. By removing product build-up and allergens from equipment surfaces and controlling bacteria, food processors help eliminate contamination and ensure only safe products are released into the market.