Cleaning and sanitizing are the most important aspects of a sanitation program. In depth procedures must be developed for all food-product contact surfaces (equipment, utensils, etc.) as well as for non-product surfaces.
This includes non-product portions of equipment, overhead structures, shields, walls, ceilings, floors and drains, lighting devices, refrigeration units, HVAC systems, and anything else that could negatively affect food safety.
Cleaning and sanitizing frequency must be clearly defined for each process line (i.e. daily, after production runs, or more often if necessary). The type of cleaning or sanitizing required must also be identified. A master sanitation schedule is critical in a food processing plant operation. All management must understand the intricacies of this schedule as it relates to not only their department but also other departments within the food plant.
By cleaning and sanitizing surfaces that are exposed to food, you kill existing bacteria and remove the food (nutrients) which new bacteria need to grow. It is important that the clean, sanitized equipment and surfaces drain dry and are stored dry to prevent bacteria growth. All incidental equipment (brushes, etc.) must be cleaned, sanitized, and properly stored.
Cleaning and sanitizing practices should be evaluated through inspection procedures. Adherence to prescribed written procedures (inspection, swab testing, direct observation of personnel) should be continuously monitored, and records maintained to evaluate long-term compliance.
Cleaning and sanitizing equipment is clearly a big part of your plant’s entire sanitation program. A large piece of clean in place equipment presents very clear cleaning and sanitizing requirements, which should be well documented.
Generally, any piece of sanitation processing equipment produced specifically for the food industry will have thorough and detailed cleaning and sanitation instructions, which should be followed or advisedly modified. Common sense and industry standards should guide the design of cleaning and sanitizing protocols for all other equipment.