Steve Turnell, Business Development Manager at Christeyns Food Hygiene, discusses the current concerns in the meat processing industry – that of the global cost of cleaning and the implications on water, energy, time and the environment.
1. Cleaning in the meat industry – introduction
2. Key issues/problems/methodology
4. Comment – product options
One of the biggest talking points in the meat industry currently is the total cost of cleaning. This refers to the costs involved not only in the chemicals, but the time, water and energy too.
In order to remain competitive, it is crucial for meat producers and processors to manage these costs as well as taking into consideration their burden on the environment. Not a mean feat when you consider the stringent health and safety regulations and the increasing influence of sustainability issues.
Cleaning in general in the meat industry is pretty straightforward. But, if the hygiene regimes employed are below standard, then this will have bearing on product quality as well as on the bottom line.
A combination of methodology and chemistry is required, where resource and chemical optimisation and process improvement lead to achieving both financial and environmental benefits.
Different types of meat and meat products require different approaches when it comes to cleaning. Pork is generally the easiest to deal with whereas beef and lamb detritus and lamb fat, is the hardest to remove and requires higher water temperatures, and thus increased amounts of energy to achieve high temperatures. The hotter the water and the longer the pre-rinse, the higher the costs.
Both the pre-clean and pre-rinse are the most labour-intensive steps of the cleaning process. If the pre-clean is not effective or too short then the main clean can be inferior, making the job of the detergent more difficult. This lengthens the required contact time and adds costs and water usage.
The ideal products are those which are fast-acting – able to quickly and easily saponify fats – and those which are easier to rinse or have a ‘fast-break’ foam technology. Such foams break down quicker and are much easier to rinse with less residue.
We recommend the use of a pre-treatment on heavily soiled food contact surfaces. For example, dedicated meat sector pre-treatment product Superklenz applied at 0.5 – 1.0%v/v at the gross debris removal stage, will catch the soiling early before the fat has a chance to solidify. The benefits are the reduction of pre-rinse water and labour costs of up to 20% for a very small additional cost for the pre-treatment chemical.
When applying the main foam detergent, the objective is to cover and adhere diluted detergent to the remaining stubborn, dried-on food debris, both visible and non-visible, on surfaces. Attention should be made to undersides and difficult to reach areas. The foam consistency should be thick enough so as to not have too rapid a run-off. A minimum contact time of 10-15 minutes is recommended so a long-cling capable foam is the best choice.
The CFH chemical that is specifically formulated for the meat sector is Mida Foam 198 VH, with easy rinse ability and fast-acting foam it takes no more than 15 minutes to break down proteins and saponify fats. The benefit in having a meat specific detergent foam – where the alkalinity and hypochlorite levels are enhanced – means it also maintains the cleanliness and appearance of white polypropylene cutting boards and conveyor belts.
The purpose of the post detergent rinse is to completely remove all trace of dilute detergent and associated stubborn or dried on food debris from all surfaces using a top down approach where possible. Surfaces should then be checked. Traditionally these checks are visual and with the use of ATP swabs. Alternatively, FreshCheck, a recently launched ‘hygiene verification spray’, has the advantage over ATP as it detects ‘stressed bacterial cells’ as well as live viable bacterial cells and organic matter and only takes 15 seconds to carry out.
We recommend that after the post detergent rinse and prior to applying the terminal disinfectant hygiene operators should change their PPE or at least their gloves and aprons. This will further reduce the risk of cross contamination, recontamination.
The final stage, terminal disinfection, is where all food contact surfaces and equipment are covered in disinfectant. Christeyns has developed a specific product for the meat sector called Mida Chriox F2, based on peracetic acid. This one terminal disinfectant meets all the disinfection needs for the meat and poultry sector, including livestock vehicles and equipment, as well as the meat processing plant.
Wall mounted systems are worth considering for the automatic application of foam detergent, rinse water and disinfectant, using a centralized storage system fed from IBC supply in an external location. Where meat processing companies do not have a wall mounted ring main wash down system, the Christeyns Food Hygiene field team has stand-alone software tools for assisting customers with calculating the ‘total cost of cleaning’ and identifying opportunities to save on the cleaning parameters of water, time, chemical and energy.
As margins get tighter and environmental concerns more pressing, it makes sense to assess current cleaning procedures. Even a small change can pay dividends both for the planet and the bottom line.
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