Food processing facilities must ensure adequate cleaning and sanitation of all equipment, surfaces and utensils. Inadequate cleaning and sanitation can cause food contamination, illness and a decrease in product quality and shelf life.
Why Clean and Sanitize?
Cleaning and sanitizing procedures must be part of the standard operating procedures in a food processing environment. Inadequately cleaned and sanitized surfaces, create a breeding ground for microorganisms that can be transferred from one food to another, causing food spoilages or even worse; foodborne illness. These microorganisms’ can include; bacteria, moulds, yeast, viruses or parasites.
Suitable PH, temperature and oxygen levels, make the environment favourable to produce bacteria, mould and yeast to multiply in food. Viruses and parasites survive in food but depend upon a living host, this includes the human body to grow and reproduce.
These microorganisms cause food spoilage, reducing shelf life, causing changes in food colour, texture, flavor and/or smell. These changes make the food unsuitable or undesirable for human consumption, not to mention the pathogenic microorganisms, which produce illnesses or illness-causing toxins, do not create any visible changes in food.
An unclean food processing surface, creates an ideal environment for the growth of these microorganisms. Food that comes in contact with these unsantized surfaces allow for food spoilage or pathogenic microorganisms to be transferred to the food being processed. The transfer of microorganisms from a contaminated source to a non-contaminated source is called cross-contamination.
So how do you prevent the spread of Microorganisms?
By following proper cleaning and sanitation of all equipment, work surfaces and utensils, you can;
• Remove dirt and/or food materials killing any microorganisms.
• Eliminate most bacteria including pathogens.
• Prevent cross-contamination.
• Extend the shelf life of your foods.
• Improve food safety.
• Increase protection against financial loss.
What is Cleaning?
Cleaning is a prerequisite for effective sanitization. Cleaning is the process of removing organic matter and other types of residue such as oils, grease and protein, that can harbor bacteria and prevent sanitizers from coming into physical contact with the surface to be sanitized. The right cleaning agents must be selected because the presence of organic matter can inactivate or reduce the effectiveness of some of the sanitizers, rendering them ineffective.
What is Sanitation?
The Sanitization process follows cleaning. Sanitization is the application of heat or chemicals to properly clean and thoroughly rinse food-contact surfaces, yielding a 99.999% reduction in pathogenic microorganisms.
For more information on Food Safety please refer to www.omafra.gov.on