Turn on the news and you will hear about a food recall due to potential bacterial contamination. It seems like it is a constant problem and that is because it is. Food processing facilities have a love of moving parts, tiny mechanisms, organic matter (food), moisture, cold temperatures that foster bacterial growth and more. In essence, it is veritable breeding ground food bacteria. It is no wonder that cleaning and sanitation is a constant problem that must be vigilantly managed for food processing facilities. Food Safety Tech explains how bacteria gets introduced to a wide range of foods and why that makes proper sanitation in food processing facilities so important, “Caramel apples, ice cream, packaged salads and frozen vegetables were responsible for sickening dozens of people and killing more than 10.
These products are part of an alarming group of common foods that have caused outbreaks, including milk, spinach, sprouts, peanut butter, cheese, cantaloupes and raw cookie dough. And the broad range of pathogens causing these outbreaks is just as diverse, and they continue to find creep into food processing facilities, finished food products and consumer homes… Fruits, vegetables and other products, such as spices, can easily become contaminated with Lm, Salmonella or E. coli in the fields where they are grown, in transit or in the processing facilities. Once pathogens are introduced into the processing environment, they can quickly spread and contaminate food products. Recent studies reveal that Listeria is a significant concern in these environments. For example, out of 5,000 samples from the food preparation areas of 30 retail grocery establishments, approximately 10% tested positive for Lm. These are scary numbers considering almost 16% of those who become infected with Lm will die. In today’s new environment, FDA will be seeking justification to bring criminal charges whenever a contaminated product causes human illness.”
Unfortunately, cleaning and proper sanitation is easier said than done. Because food processing facilities deal in producing safe and delicious foods, they cannot exactly use harsh and dangerous chemical cleaning products all over equipment that will come in contact with food. But, that equipment still must be cleaned and disinfected. Additionally, that equipment has a lot of tiny moving parts and difficult to clean areas that would serve as the perfect hiding place for bacteria to breed and grow and then touch food. So, what is the solution? Steam cleaning. Steam cleaning uses no harsh chemicals, only water that has been heated to such a high temperature that it produces a steam capable of disinfecting 99% of bacteria. One of the best features of steam, besides its disinfection capabilities, is the fact that it can penetrate porous surfaces and get into the tiniest cracks and crevices in machinery to lift, remove and kill bacteria, leaving behind equipment that will run better and be safe to use in food processing. Food processing facilities that want to produce the best of the best and also protect themselves from litigation that comes as a result of food contamination should invest in high quality commercial steam cleaners to keep their facilities clean and safe.