Friday, 22 September 2017

Cleaning and sanitising equipment in the food industry is complex

By Noel Johnson

All food processing plants should undergo regular cleaning and antimicrobial treatments to ensure they meet Food Safety and Food Hygiene compliance.

At Unique Services we specialise in cleaning and sanitising all surfaces in food processing plants. From walls and floors to drains and vents, we treat the entire space with industrial cleaning equipment and M.P.I approved sanitising chemicals.

Food production machinery can be complicated. With so many nooks and crannies, bacteria have a great selection of areas to settle and multiply.

Certain bacteria and other pathogens in food can be extremely harmful to the consumer, but you can easily avoid this worst-case-scenario with simple routine food safety cleaning.

Washing vegetables

Professional food safety cleaning gives peace of mind

Our methods of food safety cleaning are extremely detailed - we have had plenty of years’ experience to fine-tune our processes.

We deal with all food contact areas as well as non-product surfaces such as walls, ceilings, refrigeration units, overhead structures, HVAC systems and lighting devices. Where clients have their own cleaning procedures, we work in conjunction with their Risk Management Programmes to improve food safety and hygiene standards.

A lapse in food safety standards could be extremely damaging to your brand, especially if it results in the illness of a consumer. Having peace of mind that all food processing areas are completely pathogen-free is invaluable to food manufacturers.

Food processing plant

Stringent methods of cleaning and sanitising

The objective of cleaning and sanitising food contact surfaces is to remove food soil that bacteria and other pathogens need to grow and kill those that are already present. The correct sequence for cleaning and sanitising food contact surfaces is:

1)      Rinse

2)      Clean

3)      Rinse

4)      Sanitise

5)      Rinse

We see all kinds of processing equipment, therefore we code each based on how best to approach cleaning and sanitising methods.

By analysing equipment prior to cleaning, we can minimise down time for the client and ensure we have cleaned all possible areas of machinery.

Cleaning methods for equipment can be categorised as follows:

  • Mechanical Cleaning (CIP). Doesn’t need partial or complete disassembly

  • Clean out of place (COP). May be partially disassembled

  • Manual cleaning, requiring complete disassembly for cleaning.

One aspect of the whole process that is often overlooked is the quality and chemistry of the water used which normally amounts to 95-99% of cleaning and sanitising solutions.


Water carries the detergent and sanitiser to the surface, removes the contamination from the surface and is then used as the final rinse. Impurities in water have a dramatic effect on the efficiency of detergents and sanitisers.

Water hardness is the most obvious property to effect the operation but water can also contain significant numbers of microorganisms as well as chemical impurities.

There would be no point to the whole process if the final rinse was done with contaminated water, therefore any water used for cleaning and sanitising must be pathogen free. In some locations this means treating the water prior to cleaning.

Food safety cleaning - not one-size-fits-all

Food manufacturers all have their own equipment and processes. This means that cleaning and sanitising food processing plants has to be tailored each time to suit the needs of the manufacturer.

Testing is done prior to cleaning to determine the bacteria and pathogens that are present and what chemicals are needed to treat them.

We also check for food soils. These are unwanted deposits on food contact surfaces from biofilms, minerals and water and these can be invisible. It’s important that we test for these prior to cleaning, so personnel understand the type of soil they are dealing with, and decide on the best detergent and cleaning method to use.

The general rule is that alkaline cleaners deal with food waste and acid soils and acid based cleaners dissolve mineral soils. Using the wrong type of detergent can actually “harden” soiling making it more difficult to remove.


Cleaning and sanitising is a complicated area in the food processing business.

Keeping in mind that all of our industrial cleaning services are customised to suit your requirements, we will ensure your space is cleaned and sanitised to the highest possible standard.

Our team is available 24/7, so call Unique Services today and get the best professional food safety clean for you processing plant.