Food Grade Cleaners For Food Processing Plants? Why?

I have received a number of requests in recent months for food grade cleaners to clean food processing facilities—mostly from start-up companies or people who want to make the switch to “organic” food processing.

My question to these people is WHY? If the cleaner is mild enough and safe enough to be safe for ingestion, it probably is not aggressive enough to get your plant clean. In addition, the cleaner should never become part of the food chain when proper sanitation procedures are used.

From a food safety standpoint it is much more critical that the food processing facility be clean when the sanitation is completed, so utilize those cleaners acceptable for food plant sanitation and that will get it clean. The cleaning step has to be followed by a thorough potable water rinse to comply with both FDA and FSIS standard requirements for sanitation. This rinse process should completely flush away all cleaning agents and soils, leaving all surfaces completely clean and bare.

After the rinse step, apply a post-rinse sanitizer—in the case of “Organic” certified facilities, the choice of post-rinse sanitizer is either peroxyacetic acid or sodium hypochlorite. The post-rinse sanitizer is the only component of the sanitation process that is acceptable for incidental contact with food. Note that the sanitizer is not incorporated into the food product as an ingredient—it only has incidental contact on the outer surface of the food being processed on that equipment.