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Steps to Cleaning and Sanitizing in the Food Industry

Cleaning and sanitizing in the agri-food industry is a crucial part of the production cycle. Consequences can be devastating if not done correctly. Both cleaning and sanitizing are the basis for delivering a safe product. However, agri-food facility cleaning is not always easy.

Trexo tailors our industrial plant cleaning service to each client, because one size does not fit all. That said, there are certain rules that always apply, and procedures that that must be respected in each and every case.

How to clean a food processing plant

Step 1: Rough cleaning

Of all steps, food companies skip this one the most often. Any well-designed cleaning procedure should involve removing all visible contaminants before applying detergent.

Ideally, this should be done dry, by hand. Visible dirt can be removed by scraping or other physical methods.  

Collected residue should be discarded in trash cans, which should then be removed from the area. All ingredients, food, and packaging materials should also be moved elsewhere before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Pre-rinse

Pre-rinsing removes deposits that could not be dislodged by scraping or other rough manual cleaning (see Step 1).

It is important to clear away any excess water left from the pre-rinse to avoid diluting the detergent in the next step.

Step 3: Detergent

Detergents are not designed to remove large pieces of food or thick deposits of grease. However, they can remove thin layers of protein, grime and other food deposits.

Detergent cleaning should be done carefully and cleaners should treat all surfaces thoroughly. Always use detergents according to the supplier’s instructions, and give the product enough time to do its work.

Step 4: Post-rinse

The post-rinse will remove any remaining food particles. It is important to avoid splashing during this stage, which could cause recontamination of the surfaces that have just been cleaned.

After post-rinse, the surface should be completely free of any visible particles and detergent residues: the post-rise should remove all traces of cleaning products.

Step 5: Sanitization

Sanitization should only be performed on a clean, well rinsed surface using a minimum amount of water. Choose disinfectants carefully and be sure to respect the supplier’s instructions and use the product safely.

Step 6: Final rinse

Most disinfectants can be left on non-food contact surfaces without doing a final rinse.

However, it is sometimes mandatory to rinse food contact surfaces with water after disinfection. It depends on the facility and the agri-food industry sector in which your plant operates.

Our industrial cleaning company will know whether it is necessary to perform this last step in your specific plant.

2 golden rules for cleaning a food processing plant perfectly

Rule No.1: Take time to analyze the situation

The first step to effective and thorough cleaning is understanding the types of contaminants and residues that need to be cleaned. To do this, our cleaners will analyze the facility and ask questions about the business and cleaning routines that are already in place.

A site visit is always the best way to find out how equipment is cleaned and the condition of the facilities. It is also important to learn how the staff take care of their workspace.

A cleaner may also ask questions about the type of machines that need to be sanitized: Are they made of stainless steel or plastic? Will it be necessary to us a cutting-edge technique such as ultrasonic cleaning? Questions like these make all the difference when planning an intervention.

Rule No.2: The importance of sanitization after cleaning

It should be noted that cleaning and sanitization are two different things. Cleaning involves the complete removal of dirt and residue from surfaces. Once a surface is clean, it can then be sanitized effectively. A surface that has only been cleaned will be free of residue and material, but microorganisms will remain.

When choosing a disinfectant, it is important to take into account how toxic it is, and what residues it may leave. Always follow the instructions to the letter, as improper use of disinfectants can pose a health threat to your plant’s employees.

Have your food processing plant cleaned by Trexo

The cleaning process in an agri-food facility is unique to each operation because there are many types of contamination and equipment.

It is important to know the customer and the business: without rigorous questioning and effort, the result will be a poor cleaning and wasted time, money and resources. Even if your factory safety procedures include the cleaning of equipment, your teams could be put at serious risk if sanitization is not done properly.

Since 1987, our industrial cleaning company has developed techniques to meet the strict requirements of customers in the agri-food industry in Quebec and Ontario.Contact us today to learn more about our agri-food industry cleaning methods, or for information about our various industrial cleaning services.