Sanitation TipsOctober’s Sanitation Tips looked at the most important areas for meat and poultry plant sanitation crews to clean and sanitize: food-contact areas throughout the plant, surfaces that will touch meat and poultry products eventually to be consumed by customers. This month focuses on the sanitation and cleaning processes, how they differ from each other, why they’re both important and how plant cleaning and sanitation work crews can carry out each one efficiently.

There’s no doubt sanitizing and cleaning make up the most important aspects of a poultry or meat slaughter or processing plant sanitation program. In addition to developing programs for product contact surfaces, such as equipment and utensils, they must also address noncontact surfaces, including equipment not touching food, overhead structures, lighting devices, ceilings, walls, ventilation, heating and airconditioning systems, refrigeration units and anything else in the plant having an impact on food safety.

Crew members need to think about the steps required in cleaning and sanitizing in meat and poultry plants. There are a number to be carried out, including the sanitizing procedure itself; making use of approved sanitizers; methods and concentrations for use of chemical sanitizers; as well as why sanitizing is done and not just cleaning. Other factors to think about include heat sanitizing; air drying; frequency of cleaning and drying food-contact surfaces.

Crew members also need to be made aware of the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning is removing soil, food and other debris from a surface. This is accomplished by using detergents to remove fat or grease residue. Cleaning does not reduce contamination to safe levels – sanitizing does, and it is used after a surface is clean by using chemicals or heat to bring down the number of microorganisms to a safe level.

Sanitation Tips are brought to you by Zep, Superior Solutions

M&P’s Sanitation Tips are to be used only as guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing processing facilities. Specific issues and questions should be addressed by a sanitation crew supervisor.

Bernard Shire, an M&P Contributing Editor, is M&P’s Washington correspondent and feature writer based in Lancaster, Pa. With a background in editing and writing for daily news publications, he also works as a food safety consultant and writer for Shire & Associates.