How do we clean during operations?

Most cleaning undertaken during operations is essentially good housekeeping and a dry clean when required.  A dry clean involves cleaning as much fat, meat, blood and any waste without using water.

In a dry clean:

  • liquid waste is pushed to the appropriate drain
  • all solids are collected and put in the tubs or chutes
  • all paper and plastic waste is put in the correct bin for inedibles
  • blood in the bleeding area should be carefully pushed into the blood drain
  • a minimum amount of water should be used near the blood drain, because blood diluted with water is harder to turn into bloodmeal.

Water, especially from high pressure hoses, should never be used to clean during processing or near product, unless you are specifically instructed to because:

  • it can splash contamination off the walls and floor onto the product
  • it provides the moisture bacteria need to grow.

How do we clean after production?

In abattoirs and boning rooms there is generally a six step cleaning plan

Step one – dry clean

In a dry clean:

  • solids i.e. fats and meat scraps are gathered and put in the tubs marked for ‘inedible product’
  • paper and plastic waste is put in the correct bins
  • blood from the bleeding area is pushed down the blood drain
  • water is pushed down the correct drains

Tools are often colour coded for the area of use and cannot be used in different parts of the plant, e.g. equipment used in ‘inedible’ areas such as rendering, cannot be used in edible meat processing areas.

Step two – cold water wash

In a cold water wash:

  • use cold water (less than 45°C) under pressure, to wash walls, floors and equipment
  • start from the corners and work towards the drain, (top to bottom) to reduce the spread of contamination.

This removes as much soluble soil as possible and softens any materials on the surface.

Step three – apply detergents and sanitisers

Detergents and sanitisers are applied to surfaces starting from the floor and moving up the walls and equipment and observing contact times according to manufacturer’s instructions.

This step removes some of the material that remains after the cold wash and kills more bacteria present.

Step four – manual scrub

Equipment and surfaces are scrubbed using the approved food grade detergent and cleaning pads and sponges. Any build-up of materials e.g. around hand basins and sterilisers is removed.

Step five – hot water rinse

Rinse all detergent and sanitiser from the surfaces using hot potable water (greater than 82°C) under pressure from the top down. This removes dirt and cleaning products from the surfaces so that they do not contaminate the product.

Step six – inspect and oil

Any metal surfaces are inspected and oiled with oil approved for the purpose. Then any remaining surfaces are checked for possible sources of contamination. In some plants a sanitiser spray is used at the end of the clean-up.

How is hygiene monitored?

Monitoring is the checking we do to make sure the cleaning of personal protective equipment, premises and equipment is effective.

There are two basic methods for monitoring hygiene.

  1. Inspection using the senses such as sight, smell, and touch (organoleptic inspection). These inspections are usually carried out before operations commence to determine if the surfaces are visually clean.
  2. Microbiologic sampling where swabs, petri film, protein sticks etc are used to detect micro-organisms on the surface being tested. Sampling is carried out to determine if the cleaning program has reduced the number of micro-organisms to an acceptable level.

How are cleaners and sanitisers stored?

The main on-plant chemical contamination risk is from cleaning chemicals.  As a rule, detergents and sanitisers should be kept in a dark, cool place.  Heat can cause the sanitisers to lose their effectiveness, or in the case of some powders, produce a gas which can build up and possibly explode.

Chemicals should be stored in correctly labelled sites and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS/SDS) should be available and used.  There is a MSDS/SDS for every potentially dangerous chemical.

The MSDS/SDS tells you:

  • how the chemical should be stored
  • properties and uses of the substance
  • health hazard information
  • precautions for use
  • safe handling requirements.