Cooler Floor Cleaning Procedures

May 8, 2012, Elis Owens, Ph.D., Senior Chemist / Microbiologist
Elis Owens, Ph.D. Chemist / Microbiologist

One area of the packing plant that is frequently overlooked when it comes to cleaning and sanitation is the floor of the hot box or carcass chiller. There are several challenges involved. For example, operational issues may restrict the time available for cleaning between when the rails are emptied and they start to fill. What’s more, manpower for cleaning may not be available or the plant may not have the products and procedures needed to effectively clean these areas. If neglected, hot box and chiller floors may provide a suitable environment for the development of microbial biofilms and serve as a reservoir of infection to spread contamination across the plant.

In response to these problems, Birko has developed and recommends several procedures to remediate neglected cooler floors and subsequently maintain them in sanitary state.

Remedial cleaning of the hot boxes should be completed before implementing the routine cleaning program. As with any cleaning program, the remedial cleaning should begin with a dry pick up and thorough wash down of the floors with hot water. Some plants have found it advantageous at this point to run a dilute solution of Birko Liquik® Bleach through the spray chill system and on to the cooler floors. The hydrogen peroxide functions to not only clean the spray chill system, but also helps to displace embedded fat and proteins from concrete floors. Next, the walls and floors should be foamed with an EPA-approved biofilm remover and the entire floor scrubbed either by hand or by machine. After scrubbing, all traces of the biofilm remover should be rinsed thoroughly away using potable water. The floors can then be sanitized with a flood application of Birko Quadra Quat® or Ultra-Quat™ applied at 800ppm. Prior to returning the cooler to production, use a lawn fertilizer spreader to apply a coating of Birko Sour™ to the floor and a layer of Pow-Quat™ to the floor in the in-feed and out-feed areas of the hot box.

Following the remedial program, cooler floors should be maintained on a daily and weekly basis. As soon as the cooler bay is empty, pick up all solid debris and wash down the floors using a shielded water broom at a temperature of 140° – 150°F. The use of a water broom is recommended to minimize the potential for aerosol formation that might spread microbial contamination. If desired, the floors can be sanitized with a flood of BIRK-OX™ (peracetic acid) at 200ppm. The application of Pow-Quat™ to the in-feed and out feed areas should be repeated daily, and the application of Birko Sour™ to the floors should be repeated weekly.

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