Effective cleaning and sanitation programs reduce contamination risks at meat and poultry processing plants.
By Allison Bardic, Senior Editor
From employee hygiene and food-surface treatment to plant cleaning and sanitation, meat and poultry processors are implementing integrated food-safety techniques to eliminate the pathogens and other microorganisms that cause product cross-contamination, spoilage, and reduced shelf life.
Supporting their efforts are such companies as St. Paul, MN-based Ecolab Inc., which offers an integrated, multiple-interventions approach to food safety, from livestock disease interventions, advanced sanitation technologies, and personnel hygiene programs to food-surface treatments and food irradiation.
“The basic message is that there is no silver bullet, and that to do the very best job of protecting their food products’ quality and safety, processors must have a program with a number of interventions,” Jeff Prickel, Ecolab’s senior market manager, meat and poultry, explains.
Products including Ecolab’s automated dispensing systems and specialized, advanced detergents, sanitizers, processing aids, and sanitation verification system have become key elements for helping processors control the quality and efficiency of their operation. Ecolab’s Vortexx, an advanced peracid sanitizer for food, beverage, meat, and poultry processing plants, for example, delivers antimicrobial activity on yeast, molds, and bacteria, and it is used at concentrations typically 30 to 50 percent lower than other peracid sanitizers. Quadexx, an Internet-enabled formulation and allocation system for food-processing plants, is touted for providing hands-off dispensing, reduced costs, and exceptional information-management capability.
Douglas Machines Corp., a Clearwater, FL-based manufacturer of automated washing and sanitizing equipment, offers processors an alternative to handwashing with its batch and continuous cleaning devices designed for distribution and storage containers such as pans, trays, molds, screens, pallets, lugs, totes, racks, bins, vats, baskets, scale parts, and smoke trucks.
“The primary motivation for companies to invest in these washers is savings in time, labor, water, energy, and chemical usage when compared to handwashing,” observes Kevin Lemen, vice president of sales and marketing, Douglas Machines. “Using an automated washer also produces consistent results and standardizes the cleaning process with verifiable results.”
Douglas Machines’ most recent innovations include the 1536-SPW Scale Parts Washer, VBW 1000 Vat/Buggy Washer, and BDW-1-HD Barrel/Drum Washer, with features including stainless-steel construction, separate wash and rinse tanks, self-contained water heating, recirculating wash water, heavy-duty water pumps, top-quality gauges and electrical components, and custom-designed racking systems.
Mike Hinkle, president and chief executive officer of AFCO (Alex C. Fergusson Inc.), a Frazer, PA-based specialty chemical supplier providing detergents, sanitizers, and equipment to the food industry, further stresses that suppliers must deliver cleaning and sanitation solutions that not only clean and sanitize effectively, but also increase plant efficiency.
“As a supplier to the meat and poultry industry, we must be flexible and creative in order to deliver a safe food supply as well as impact the productivity of the plant,” he says, pointing to “automated cleaning strategies encompassing equipment, detergents, and new sanitizers that reduce labor, meet the new required production run times, and exceed heightened food-safety requirements.”
ALTO Cleaning Systems Inc., Pineville, NC has introduced a new KEW multi-user pressure-washer series known as the KEW Booster Series. The Booster series allows anywhere from two to 18 users simultaneously depending on the customer’s requirements. The equipment permits up to 185Þ F inlet water temperature, and each user can adjust the pressure and water flow from 300 to 2400PSI and 4.5 to 10GPM.
“Our equipment is designed with state-of-the-art ergonomic features enabling the user to work with our equipment for hours without discomfort,” adds Ulrik “Ollie” Nielsen, director of sales and marketing, ALTO Cleaning Systems.
Hygiene programs are critical
Meat and poultry processors committed to covering all food-safety aspects also recognize that personnel hygiene programs are critical.
“It is estimated that as much as twenty percent of food contamination can come from poor personnel hygiene, and yet when you look at the money spent on personnel hygiene issues such as hand hygiene, it is actually quite small when comparing the level spent on cleaning equipment,” says Hillard Witt, president of Best Sanitizers Inc., a Penn Valley, CA-based leader in hand hygiene no-touch technologies.
Noting that the bacteria workers bring into a plant on their hands from outside the facility and the bacteria they pick up in the restroom are two major areas of concern, Witt says Best Sanitizers has introduced a wide range of no-touch products for the food processing restroom. Among them are no-touch toilets, faucets, soap dispensers, towel dispensers, and complete no-touch sink units. Moreover, the company has developed antimicrobial treated door push plates and handles.
Another significant innovation is Best Sanitizers’ Alpet D2, a rapid kill, no-rinse sanitizer for food-contact surfaces. This highly evaporative sanitizer, a powerful Isopropyl alcohol and Quaternary Ammonium compound, is the only Environmental Protection Agency-authorized alcohol-based product for this purpose.
In addition to equipment and supplies sanitizers and personnel hygiene programs, the meat industry is experiencing increased use of carcass-wash systems. Atlanta, GA-based Zep Manufacturing Co. offers the ZATS System (Zep Antimicrobial Treatment System), developed for use in the online processing/reprocessing of pre-chill poultry carcasses that may have accidentally become contaminated with digestive tract contents during evisceration. ZATS applies a non-atomized flow of aqueous chlorine dioxide solution.
“The high-volume flow of the solution helps to reduce fecal and ingesta-contaminants, and the microbial load on the carcasses is lowered, thereby enhancing product safety and quality,” explains Phillip Ellis, senior chemist, food division, Zep Manufacturing.
Ecolab offers Inspexx 100, a peroxyacetic acid-based antimicrobial food-surface treatment recommended for use in poultry spray rinsing and chill water, and Inspexx 200, another peroxyacetic acid-based antimicrobial recommended for use in carcass sprays on red meat surfaces. The premixed antimicrobials require no precursor chemicals or on-site generation equipment, translating into less handling and less risk for workers. NP
Technology suppliers participating in this article include: