When Should Food Production Equipment Be Cleaned and Sanitized?

industrial food processing employees smiling

Bacteria is one of the most prevalent dangers infecting industries utilizing tanks and other pieces of equipment throughout the production process. Industry owners know the importance of maintaining clean, sanitized equipment. Product quality, industry reputation, and administrative standards demand a bacteria-free process.

In the content below, we explore one industry uniquely prone to bacterial buildup, tips to keep your equipment bacteria free, and the best nozzles to keep equipment consistently sanitized.


Food & Beverage Industry: Prone to Bacteria Buildup

The Federal Equipment Company acutely describes the gravity of bacterial buildup within the food & beverage industry:

Food contamination is a major concern for consumers, the food processing industry, public health professionals and regulatory bodies. Contaminated food can endanger the health of consumers, and product recalls can be devastating to food manufacturers. Beyond the cost of the recall itself, a recall attributable to contamination can lead to the closing of entire facilities and complete shutdown of production. Companies must take a proactive approach to food contamination, building hygienic procedures and controls into their processes to minimize contamination risk. 

The four primary sources of contamination within the food production environment are biological (bacterial), chemical, physical, and cross-contamination. Biological contamination thrives within specific environments and among certain foods. Seafood, dairy, cooked rice, and other moist foods high in starch or protein are prone to contamination. Hot and cold drinking water tanks readily harbor pathogens as well, due to equipment design and temperature.


Dominant Bacteria in Food Production Environments

Pseudomonas are often found in seafood and meat production – occasionally, the strain affects dairy products. Prevalent due to its ability to grow readily in low temperatures with few nutrients, Pseudomonas has even been known to produce antibiotics to fight rival bacterial strands. Similar to Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter survives due to biofilm production.

Staphylococcus dominates a variety of food production environments. Known for its tolerance, this bacterium survives on dry and salty surfaces with a powerful biofilm protection. Unlike Pseudomonas, however, Staphylococcus finds difficulty surviving in nutrient-deficient environments or cold, humid spaces.

Bacillus is perhaps among the most powerful of common bacteria, able to survive during long periods of nutrient and water drought, high temperatures, and some disinfectants. This bacterium is sometimes found in dairy production environments.

Legionella is especially potent in drinking water tanks.

Regardless of the specific bacterial strain, food production environments – and other industries utilizing large equipment – are prone to infection, ultimately endangering anyone coming in contact with the product. Keeping your equipment free of bacteria is extraordinarily important. How can this be done?


Bacteria Prevention

Industries utilizing large industrial tanks can follow a few measures to prevent bacterial buildup and growth.

1. Maintain Proper Temperatures

Bacteria proliferate best in specific temperatures. For example, Legionella flourish in water temperatures between 22-170 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures rising above this temperature will eliminate Legionella growth and kill the bacteria. As temperatures steadily rise, the bacteria is destroyed quicker. OSHA and ASHRAE acknowledge the growth of Legionella in a specific environmental temperature; ASHRAE strongly recommends hot water be stored at temperatures above 140 degrees and cold water be stored at less than 68 degrees to diminish bacterial growth. On the other hand, bacteria such as Staphylococcus die in colder, humid environments. If it is not possible to maintain optimal temperatures throughout production, be sure to employ a cleaning system with temperature capability to keep your equipment free of bacteria.

2. Minimize Stagnation

Stagnation is almost always reason for bacterial growth. For example, water sitting stagnant for extended periods of time are susceptible to Legionella. If your product must sit in storage within a tank, minimize stagnation and stratification with the use of circulation. In most cases, tanks can be drained and cleaned in between every use. Once again, when a tank is drained, clean the entire piece of equipment with a trustworthy nozzles system.

3. Test for Bacterial Buildup

Periodically, test for infectious buildup. Even the cleanest-looking equipment may have dangerous bacterial residue. Incorporate bacterial testing into your monthly or quarterly routine.

4. Clean Tanks and Equipment Regularly

Although tank and equipment sanitation seems obvious, many industry leaders are unsure where to start in the hunt for the best cleaning system. The process is not extremely intuitive – various nozzles are best for different sized tanks with varying soil intensity.


Choosing the Best Nozzle for Equipment Sanitation

At Lechler, we are passionate about guiding industries to the best nozzle for their application. In the pursuit of bacteria-free equipment, the process is extremely important.

Static Spray Balls

Static spray balls are used to clean relatively small tanks, especially in the food and beverage industries. Static spray balls are ideal for rinsing. Self-draining and resistant to extreme temperatures, static spray balls are excellent in hygienically sensitive environments.

Free Spinning Nozzles

Free spinning nozzles are specially positioned to rapidly and repeatedly dispense fluid at low pressures. Free spinning nozzles are driven by the pressure of the fluid, utilized primarily for small to medium-sized tanks and light soiling.

Controlled Rotation Nozzles

Controlled rotation nozzles are also driven by fluid; however, controlled nozzles are driven by a turbine wheel and internal gear that control the rotation pattern. This ensures that the speed remains in the optimum range even at higher pressures.  These nozzles are often utilized in medium to large-sized tanks with intense soiling.

Gear controlled nozzles provide the most powerful impact, utilized to clean large tanks with challenging soils. Gear controlled nozzles are driven by turbine wheels and an internal gear, rotating the nozzles on two axes. These nozzles are used for the toughest cleaning tasks, especially in the food and beverage, chemical, paper, and petrochemical industries.


Lechler: Engineering the Ideal Spray Solution

At Lechler, we understand the absolute importance of high quality production. This is why we provide state of the art sanitation solutions for a variety of markets, from food and beverage to steel and power generation.

We are happy to guide you in selecting the proper nozzle for your application. Feel free to reach out at 800.777.2926 or via our online contact form to begin a conversation!