use. This approach hinges on effective
stepwise cleaning followed by decontamination using a sanitizer. All other
details associated with these two major
events or that are part of them must be
adhered to with the utmost care.
2. Sanitizers destroy all microorganisms
Sanitizers are chemicals that are appropriate for use in the food industry
to significantly reduce harmful microorganisms of concern to food safety.
These include a multitude of bacteria,
many species of viruses, many species
of fungi, and even parasites; however,
sanitizers do not destroy all of them. In
fact, viruses like norovirus and bacteria
like Clostridium difficile can survive even
when sanitizers are properly used according to label instructions.
Sanitizers also do not work on any
microorganism that is part of a biofilm.
Biofilms are communities of microor-
ganisms that coexist and are present
ubiquitously. They are a real challenge
in the food industry and a primary tar-
get of cleaning and sanitation programs.
These biofilms are complexes of many
species surrounded by an extracellular
matrix of polysaccharides and proteins.
They can often have many layers of living organisms and can protect a pathogen like Listeria and allow it to persist.
So, cleaning activities should target
biofilms so they can be removed or prevented completely. This is why cleaning
is followed by sanitization. In an ideal
world, once cleaning is complete, there
will be no remaining microorganisms.
The use of sanitizer is then necessary to
provide a higher level of security and to
complete the sanitation cycle.
3. Sanitation can be done by anyone; a beating heart is all you need
If you’ve worked in a food process-
ing facility, you know what sanitation
is. Similarly, if you’re in production or
in a quality assurance role, you know
that your success or even your paycheck
may well be connected to how good of
a job the sanitation crew does. The work
conditions, heat and humidity, slippery
floors, confined spaces, high-pressure
hoses, suds, cold rooms, and treacher-
ous conditions that are encountered by
many frontline sanitation workers are
not for the faint of heart. The average
sanitation professional often requires
physical strength combined with sharp
observational skills and a keen problem-
solving mentality to work with a team
that can ensure that the proper plan-
ning, cleaning, and verification of a fa-
cility or work area is at the right level of
hygiene to be worthy of handling food.
As facilities become more automated,
sanitation jobs are far more akin to
robotics, mechanical structure and engineering, and data-interpretation jobs.
Sanitation professionals are directly or
on a dotted-line basis related to members of the food safety team and are
integral to product quality.
4. Multi-purpose systems and tools reduce
Since the broader adoption of
closed-loop, clean-in-place (CIP) systems in the 1950s, they have played an
integral role in liquid-handling (
especially dairy) facilities, allowing them to
run more efficiently by reducing the
steps and time required for cleaning.
Since then, CIP is routinely used in
numerous facilities with more designs
being sought for products of higher viscosity and even for dry facilities. However, CIP systems are not appropriate
for all types of products. When a CIP
system is connected to an open end,
the CIP is no longer a closed loop and
should be treated as such. Open ends
allow the transfer of material from an
ingredient or an in-process or finished
product into the system, providing a
means for product contamination. Similarly, tools used in facilities should be
matched with their hygienic zone and
segregated with their own cleaning and
management programs. Personal protective equipment should also be handled
so it does not become a transportation
system for contaminants. Studies have
shown that boots used in the processing
zone could become contaminated with
Figure 1. Core Elements of Good Sanitation