I came to Birko after almost 10 years in the craft brewing industry. Brewers are fortunate that the presence of alcohol and hops, plus the pH of beer, makes the environment of the finished product unsuitable for the growth of pathogens. However, beer is very prone to microbial spoilage and brewers, especially craft brewers, who typically do not pasteurize their products go to great lengths to eliminate microbiological contamination from their products (typical microbiological control limits for packaged beer are less than 5-10 cfu of Lactobacillus per 100 ml).
Every brewer understands that impeccable cleaning and sanitation is essential to producing a great tasting shelf stable product. Cleaning and sanitation operations are an integral part of the brewing process and are a part of the duties of almost all production employees. As cleaning is such a visible part of the process, every brewery employee understands that unless cleaning processes are effective then the end result will be microbiologically unstable product in the marketplace that will rapidly damage the brewer’s reputation as a producer of quality product.
In the food industry sanitation usually takes place on the third shift out and is separate from production. Additionally, the in-house sanitation crews are often the seen as the entry point for many new employees, and therefore, low men on the totem pole. Where contract sanitation providers are used they may not even be your employees. Despite all this though, their role in producing a quality product is just as vital. A food producer may be sourcing the finest highest quality premium raw materials – but unless they are producing a microbiologically clean product they are not producing a quality product.
Does every member of your sanitation crew know the key role they have in producing a quality product? Have you expressed appreciation to them for the role they play in your ability to produce a quality product?
Elis Owens, Ph.D., Director, Technical Services, Birko, can be reached at EOwens@birkocorp.com, 303-289-1090.