Cleaning and sanitization are extremely important while dealing with every little thing in the food industry. It was true in the pre-pandemic world and is even more important now when we’re in the midst of the pandemic. If you work in the food industry, in any capacity whatsoever, you need to understand the process and requirements of sanitization.
Following are some of the things you can learn about cleaning and sanitization:
1. Food soil deposits
Food contact surfaces can have an additional layer of contaminants on them. These are called food soils and may either be visible or invisible. Food soils can be classified as water-soluble, water-insoluble, soluble in alkali, and insoluble in Alkali. Based on the composition of food soil, the cleaning process may vary.
If you are dealing with fat-based soils as unwanted particles on your food, it will be apparent in the form of an emulsion. Firstly, use hot water above the melting point of fat. Secondly, you can use alkaline detergents for cleaning them off the surface.
If you are dealing with protein-based soils, you may need to work a little harder than when cleaning fat-based soils. You need to identify the kind of proteins. For simple proteins, you can use simpler cleaning techniques whereas if you have to clean complex proteins then you may need to use a very highly alkaline detergent with a peptizing characteristic. Besides, you can use wetting agents to increase the suspension potential of protein-based food soils.
2. Chemistry of detergents
Every detergent used for cleaning and sanitization has its own characteristics. Since these are chemicals each with unique chemical composition and are often a mixture of more than compounds, they should be used with caution. Some detergents have certain ingredients that are physically active and are therefore risky to use.
These physically active ingredients can alter the physical characteristics of a surface i.e. food soil. The alterations in physical characteristics of food soil can be in the form of change in colloidal stability or solubility.
Some detergents have chemically active ingredients. Those actors can modify the components of soil. These alterations can help with the elimination of contaminants or unwanted material on food surfaces.
3. Surface characteristics
For keeping food clean and free of infections and any vulnerabilities, you need to ensure that the equipment and utensils being used are of food-grade quality. The preferred material used across food industries all over the world is stainless steel. Other soft metals may also be used for food packaging or equipment, for instance, brass, aluminum, copper, etc. Lastly, hardwood may also be used for cutting boards, or for cutting tables.
4. How to clean?
There are many ways that you may employ for cleaning food surfaces. Sanitization can be categorized into thermal and chemical categories. Food equipment characteristics and food soil composition are important factors in deciding the means of how to sanitize the surface.
For thermal sanitization, you can use either steam or hot water. Steam has a limited utility in the cleaning of food equipment or high-touch surfaces relevant to it. Hot water on the other hand can be used by following a set of regulatory requirements that are defined by food authorities in the country. Hot water sanitization is especially useful because it is inexpensive, and the means are readily available and applicable.
Chemical sanitization needs you to get an approved sanitizing liquid from relevant authorities before applying it to a food surface. The sanitizer should be stable and be useful enough for multiple kinds of equipment. It should ruin the quality of food and must not be highly corrosive or toxic. Lastly, it should tolerate a large spectrum of physical environmental conditions.