Exclusive: Sanitation at Its Best

Sanitation in food production means complying with hygiene standards to ensure production safety and ultimately operation. But it means more than that, as manufacturers will want cleaning done in the facility to be cost-effective and efficient, to meet standards at any time.

Sanitation measures aim to remove by-products and any contaminants from a previous production run and sanitize equipment prior to the next run. Cleaning and sanitation procedures must be set in place so that they reduce the microbiological, allergenic and residual products to a satisfactory level. “The methods for hygiene verification should provide results that allow manufacturers to demonstrate that food safety risks control measures work. These methods must be simple, rapid and robust,” highlights Campden BRI in a white paper on methods for hygiene determination. Hygiene monitoring typically involves swabbing the areas where microorganisms, allergens or residues may accumulate, be it joints, welding points or belts. The research specialists explain the most popular and established rapid hygiene monitoring techniques: ATP (based on the detection of adenosine triphosphate by bioluminescence) and protein detection.

These detection methods highlighted in the research can provide information about the effectiveness of cleaning and sanitation procedures within 8-48 hours to support manufacturers with critical decisions. If manufacturers are unsure about the best methods to use, Campden recommends consulting with an analyst.

ASTec Stands for Advanced Sanitary Technology

A noteworthy example of sanitation to-dos comes from RONDO; the company has developed ASTec to meet the highest hygienic demands. “Following the international hygienic requirements such as the GMA checklist issued by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, RONDO designs the lines constantly considering the hygienic aspects, choosing the right food contact materials and incorporating state-of-the-art engineering. The ASTec standard is being applied by RONDO on (industrial) lines with an average capacity of 1.000 kg dough per hour or more,” Jörg Sonnabend, manager marketing communications, tells us on behalf of RONDO. They are an active member of the EHEDG workgroup for hygienic design and engineering.

The ASTec line is constructed of stainless steel and special food grade plastics. The equipment has an open construction, is free from niches and self-draining. Cavities, which would allow for non-visible dirt collection, are avoided or sealed. The ASTec is available in two configurations: DRY and WET. “The DRY configuration is used for equipment handling ingredients, fillings, and products with a relatively low contamination risk. DRY involves cleaning the equipment using brushes and moist cloths,” adds Sonnabend. This type of cleaning is normally done after every product change-over or every 24 hours.

Best Practices: The THERMICO PLUS Oven

To illustrate some of their latest sanitation improvements, WACHTEL GmbH is using its oven THERMICO PLUS as a reference, an electric convection oven with a self-cleaning system designed for the snack sector. The automatic high-pressure cleaning system CLEAN WASH ensures sparkling cleanliness with minimum water consumption, operating convenience, and great efficiency. Oliver Frey, WACHTEL’s CEO, lists sanitation procedures he recommends for this oven:

  • Daily cleaning of the door seal with a wet tissue and without detergent;
  • Cleaning the inside of the door with a glass cleaner, depending on soiling;
  • Using the oven cleaning system with the manufacturer’s cleaner. Every two to three days (depending on the degree of soiling);
  • Daily cleaning of the gutter in the front of the oven with a wet tissue;
  • Daily cleaning of the front of the oven with a wet tissue.

Every single piece of equipment should be individually monitored to ensure food safety at all times. WACHTEL anticipates that, in the near future, the controller will save the completed washes. These can then be extracted on a computer in tabular form (HACCP).

“Access for cleaning is facilitated by the tool-free opening of the inner door panel; the baking chamber is designed rounded for easier wiping, and the tool-free removing of the sheet metal makes cleaning more efficient,” Frey tells us. Sanitation is considered even during production processes. He adds: “Thanks to the FRESH AIR function, the baking moisture in the baking chamber can be completely removed so that the unwanted escape of the baking moisture from the baking chamber is completely avoided when opening the door into the room (preventing mold growth).”

Contamination-proof Processes

The best way to ensure hygienic conditions is to consistently avoid contamination right from the start. Josef Hoos, senior technical manager at FRITSCH, illustrates for us how this can be done:

  • All FRITSCH production lines are made of premium stainless steel;
  • Indentations, dead areas or other places where dirt might collect and be difficult to remove are consistently avoided;
  • Round (instead of rectangular) supports provide no targets for dirt;
  • Diagonal (instead of flat) planes;
  • Perforated table tops through which cleaning fluid can run away;
  • Moistening system that moistens only the dough piece and not the conveyor belt;
  • Particularly hygiene-critical components (e.g. filling units) can be cleaned separately and easily reinstalled;
  • Tool-less dismantling of parts.

For installations of FRITSCH technology, the specialist recommends a series of standard sanitation procedures. “Wherever possible, first do dry cleaning – brushing or vacuuming, which in many cases is sufficient to achieve the required installation hygiene, especially in areas where a lot of flour is used. However, wet cleaning is always possible, thanks to the appropriate execution of the line.” Wet cleaning should only be done where necessary, e.g., at the make-up section or filling units, as remainder moisture, unavoidable after this type of process, has to dry first before flour can be used again.

Automated Washing

Equipment in the baking facility, including that dedicated to cleaning, must comply with both regulatory and food safety standards. FSMA, HACCP, and GMP are among standards that play an important role in the very design of the machines. John Schlapinski, design engineering manager at Douglas Machines Corp., shares the point of view of a company with equipment meeting all industry standards: “We are constantly in development to find sanitation related design solutions that will positively impact food safety standards, processes, and procedures.” For 40 years, Douglas Machines has offered a full line of industry-leading automated washing and sanitizing equipment for containers commonly used in the food processing, manufacturing and distribution industries. Stainless steel goes into the construction of their equipment, with a sloped roof design and as few horizontal surfaces as possible. Ample access points for cleaning and maintenance are also a plus, the specialist explains.

Considering all these aspects, productivity is optimized, in a safe working environment. Aside from cleaning effectiveness, the lifespan of the equipment, tools, and utensils is increased, which translates into cost savings.

More information you can read in our print magazine Asia Pacific Baker & Biscuit (Spring 2019)! 

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