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The storage, transfer, dosing, application and rinsing of cleaning products should be carried out in a controlled and defined manner. A range of equipment is available to allow all these processes to be carried out safely and efficiently.
Once the most appropriate equipment has been chosen the processes need to be risk assessed for safety to personnel, the environment and to the food product being produced; with suitable controls applied where necessary.
As soon as a delivery of chemicals to a site occurs, provisions should be in place to ensure that the chemicals are not only stored in a safe and secure environment but are located where the risk of cross-contamination from external sources is eliminated or reduced and controlled.
The ideal storage solution is in a bunded bulk tank that is external to factory areas and that is away from production processes and personnel contact. From this central point, it is possible to provide consistent chemical concentrations to all the dispense points in the factory, thereby ensuring a uniform use of chemicals across all cleaning processes. However, the downsides to bulk storage of chemicals are the capital cost of tanks, pumps, pipework, bunding and space to locate the facilities. Trace heating and lagging of the bulk tank system will be required for many of the chemicals; particularly caustic based products.
Internal cleaning chemical stores should be kept entirely separate from food and packaging stores.
External storage solutions include designated containers that are locked, covered, cool, ventilated and not exposed to the elements. These storage areas vary in size, can be purpose-built or bought as an off-the-shelf item, storing everything from 1-litre containers to 1,000-litre IBCs.
All chemical storage areas should be:
Transfer of chemicals from the storage area to the dosing point can be completed via the use of specialist pumps and stainless-steel pipework, use of trolleys, or typically, by manual handling. While the latter should be avoided or reduced wherever possible, it is often the most sensible and practical option.
The most hygienic option is for the storage of chemicals outside the food manufacturing area and the transfer of diluted product directly to the point of use. All other options require chemical containers to be taken into food processing areas, requiring decontamination procedures for the outer surfaces of the container, particularly in high hygiene zones. The handling of only diluted chemicals by the cleaning operatives also has health and safety benefits.
Although most chemical products can be centrally stored and pumped to single or multiple dosing points, it is strongly advised that this approach is not used for chlorinated products. Chlorinated products can cause corrosion of stainless steel. Although plastic pipework can be used, specialist advice from a pipework manufacturer should be sought before installation.
Effective and accurate dosing of chemicals is vital for ensuring that a cleaning and disinfection process delivers the desired result. The use of reliable dosing equipment helps to ensure that these processes are consistent, chemicals are used safely and effectively, and costs are controlled.
Chemicals can be applied to a surface in several ways, including:
Chemical dosing and application systems are wide ranging and are either wall mounted or mobile equipment.
When assessing equipment suitability for use in food and beverage processing areas, any potential hazards need to be identified. Dependent on the hazards identified, does the equipment meet the appropriate requirements such that the hazard is eliminated or minimised? This includes meeting the standards and criteria found in the following documents:
Rinse guns are vital tools as they ensure quick removal of debris and chemical residues from surfaces and can access areas that manual methods cannot (niches, crevices, etc.).
There are three main types of pressure systems used for rinsing in the food industry:
While still used in the low-risk food manufacturing sector, such as abattoirs, cutting and boning plants, and poultry factories, the use of high pressure rinse guns in the food industry has been virtually eliminated in high risk/high care food processing sectors in the United Kingdom due to the significantly increased risk of cross-contamination.
A disadvantage of a high-pressure system is that it causes atomisation. After impact on a surface, these contaminated water droplets are dispersed into the local atmosphere and will remain there for several hours before descending onto already cleaned surfaces or product, thereby leading to cross contamination.
Because water droplets generated from low and medium pressure systems are a lot larger, the risk of atomisation is significantly reduced. However, overspray will always occur and contaminate nearby surfaces. Therefore, cleaning methods should be designed such that operatives are aware of this happening and procedures are put in place to ensure that the risk is reduced.
Another disadvantage of using high pressure is that the cleaning force and heat transfer from hot water is lost after approximately 20 cm (8 inches) from the nozzle and water becomes more of a mist rather than a jet. A medium pressure system will deliver an effective cleaning force and heat transfer of up to at least 10 times that figure, depending on its set up.
Two other major challenges arise from the rinsing process: damage to electrical components and hose management.
Improved machinery design, higher dust and water ingress protection for electrical components, locating electrics far from the areas to be cleaned, and covering items such as control panels and motors before wet cleaning all can help to reduce the possibility of electrical damage.
Hose management is a continuous challenge in all food and beverage processing environments, particularly in those deemed high care and high risk. As hoses come into constant contact with the floor, the risk of cross contamination to operative or processing equipment is high.
There are numerous reel, hanger and trolley options for hoses and each has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the best options is to not utilise reels, hangers or trollies but rather, to store the hoses after each use in a designated container holding a disinfectant solution. This ensures that any microbial contamination is significantly reduced before the next use. If this option isn’t viable and the use of reels, hangers and trollies is unavoidable, the key step is to undertake a risk assessment and determine the best option for that environment.
The placing of centralised or decentralised chemical satellite stations and the installation of hose reels, together with the hose length leading from such points, should be carefully chosen to minimise the chance of hoses having to be led over production lines to clean adjacent lines. Training and supervision in good cleaning practices are also vital tools in preventing this from occurring, particularly for hoses attached to mobile chemical application units.
It is also important to ensure that hoses and guns are routinely inspected and repaired or replaced. Any frayed hoses could provide a microbiological and a foreign body hazard and any holes could cause water or chemical to be sprayed onto surfaces or personnel.
Our support teams advise on the options available to meet your capital budget and to optimise the clean. Water, energy and time savings are closely looked at by our experienced teams. All equipment has been specially selected for quality, reliability and is offered at very competitive prices.
Effective, efficient, reliable and safe washdown, hygiene and cleaning equipment.