Food Processing Plant Hygiene

Subject: Nutrition
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 12
Word count: 3063
Topics: Food, Health, Management

Food hygiene is a significant aspect when it comes to food processing.  In that, in order for the food that is sold to consumers is safe the food processing areas have to be created and designed in such a way that they are hygienically, properly maintained and cleaned.  However, the food processing plant is not about the structure, but also about disinfection and cleaning, optimising as much air movements as possible, as well as training the personnel in the manner of cleaning to ensure that they achieve the optimum goal of proper food hygiene.  Ensuring that all this is possible is imperative because when there is a clean manufacturing environment there is minimal risk of food contamination. Therefore, it is clear that cleaning takes a very huge role in the mandatory hygiene measures that are performed in a food processing plant whereby it cannot be substituted by disinfecting along.  Cleaning has been defined as the aspect in which undesirable materials such as microorganisms, food residues and other contaminants for example, chemical residue or allergens are taken off surfaces of device, rooms and equipment (Panisello & Quantick, 2001.p.168).  The hygiene of food processing plant is imperative even for the government to ensure that its citizens consume foods that are healthy to them. Moreover, having a clean food processing plant reduces the risk of civil suit, as well as medical expenses that are associated with individuals who have consumed food that is not good for their health. This essay will focus on the legislation that is operational concerning the manner in which the processing plants should conduct themselves hygienically, as well as the cleaning and disinfectants that are used by the processing plants. 

Regulation (EC) 178/2002 provides the universal foundation for food law in all its Member States, which comprises of the general definition, specific requirements and general provisions. Regulation (EC) 178/2002 established European Food Safety Authority and further laid out the measures in relation to food protection. The main purpose of the Regulation is to guarantee that there is a high intensity of consumer protection while at the same time taking into consideration the security of animal vigour and welfare, the environment and plant healthiness.  This directive is given effect in Irish legislation by S.I No.432of 2008 as far as it concerns to the vocation of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Local Authorities and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority. The Regulation is also effect in Irish Legislation by S.I.NO 747 of 2007 concerning to food and the work that is conceded by environmental health officer of the Health Service Executive (HSE).  Regulation (EC) 178/2002 mostly deals with food law and the safety of food, as well as the responsibilities imposed on the feed and food business workers and its member states.  The legislation that deals with food hygiene and safety is Regulation No. EC 852/2004. 

Food sanitation deals with all the stages of the processing, production, placing and distribution on the market food that is intended for human consumption.  According to Regulation EC No 852/2004, food sanitation is the measure and circumstances that are essential in order to control perils and to guarantee that the food is fit for human use of the food taking into consideration its intended use. However, this directive does not relate to any major creation that is made for personal use or the household handling, preparation or storeroom of food for personal household consumption.  Additionally, the regulation does not apply to the express delivery, by the manufacturer of small portions of principal products to the last customer or to the local vending institutions directly delivering to the last buyer. 

The legislation does not also apply to the tanneries and collection centres, which fall in the description of food commerce just because they in some manner touch raw matter that is used for the making of collagen or gelatine. Therefore, according to the above analysis it is clear that the legislation only deals with huge processing plants that deal with huge production of foods. Hence, making it imperative for them to follow all the rules that are set out when it comes to cleaning and ensuring that the processing plants are hygienically created to ensure that the food produced by the food processing plants is not contaminated. The primary purpose of the novel specific and general sanitation rules is to guarantee that there is an elevated level of customer protection concerning food security. 

European Union Regulation 852/2004 necessitates that companies need to implement a quality control system and further proposes that the organizations should use the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), as it is the most appropriate system.   Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, is a methodical preventive advance to food security for chemical, biological and physical perils in the manufacture processes that can results to the finished result being insecure; therefore, designing dimensions that would enable the reduction of these perils to a very safe level.  Therefore, HACCP can be termed as the deterrence of risks rather than the concluded merchandise inspection.  The reason this scheme has been recommended by EC Regulation 852/ 2004 is that HACCP can be used at any stage of food chain that is from preparation and food production to processes that include distribution and packaging among others.  Another aspect that makes the HACCP imperative in the production and food processing is that the seven HACCP values have been included in the international standard ISO 22000 FMS 2005.  This paradigm is an absolute food quality and safety management scheme as it incorporates the rudiments of precondition programmes   such as SSOP &GMP.  Additionally, the quality management system and HACCP work jointly forming an organization’s Total Quality Management System; thus, ensuring that the production is safe for human consumption.  

The regulation; however, provides that besides the successful implementation of the procedures that are based on the HACCP principle being an instrument that assists the food business operators to attain a higher standard when it comes to food safety. The scheme should not be considered as a form of self-regulation meaning that it should not be a substitute of the official controls.  The EC Regulation 852/2004 under Article 3 provides for the general obligation that is imposed in food business operators where it stipulates that food business operatives should ascertain that all the levels of processing, production and allocation of food under their control fulfil the pertinent hygiene prerequisites that are laid out under the Regulation. 

Article 4 of the Regulation grants the General and specific hygiene prerequisites, where Article 4(3) provides that the food business operatives should as proper adopt the following explicit hygiene ways.  First, they should comply with the microbiological criteria that are imposed on foodstuffs. Secondly, they should adopt the necessary processes in order to meet the target that is set out to achieve the objective of the Regulation. Thirdly, they food business operators have to comply with temperature control prerequisites for foodstuffs, as well as the maintenance off the cold chain and sampling and analysis.  Article 4(5) further provides that in the instance where the Regulation, Regulation EC No853/2004 and their executing agencies do not provide a specific investigation or sampling methods. The food commerce operatives may use any appropriate method that is laid out in other national Legislation or Community in the nonexistence of such means that provide equal results to the ones that are obtained when using the reference method in the instance where they are scientifically authenticated according to globally recognized rules or procedures.  Further the regulation under Article 4(6)  provides that the food business operators may  make use of the guidelines that are provided for under Article 6, 7, 8 and  9 to assist them  in complying with the  obligations that have been set out  under  Regulation EU No 852/2004. 

Cleaning or sanitation of the food processing plants is imperative because there are very  high levels of residue; thus, necessitates thorough cleaning before any disinfecting can be done. It is  important to note that disinfecting and cleaning are carried out in different steps in many cases, as the food producers know that even the slight residual germs counts that remains on the surfaces after cleaning measures or  the entrance of facilities through rinsing water or the atmosphere may lead to swift re-contamination. This indicates that risks are always very high in the instances where the residues are not properly taken away before moving to the disinfecting operation. Microorganisms prefer moist-warm surfaces that are contaminated with organic residues such as those that occur in the food processing areas.  For instance, bacteria such as Escheria Coli have the ability reproduce every twenty minutes under any ideal conditions.  The cleaning step has the chief task of taking out mineral and organic residues; thus withdrawing the nutrient foundation from the microorganisms.  Moreover, for not only this reason, but also systematic cleaning is an indispensable prerequisite that is needed in order to maintain a hygienic food plant.  

Additionally, because organic residues indicate a risk for potential creation of critical biomass, it is imperative that cleaning measures are carried out systematically and thoroughly, using the proper cleaning processes and agents. Before disinfecting, the cleaned areas should be examined properly for cleanliness and re-cleaned as needed; thus making a visual inspection imperative at this point (Panisello & Quantick, 2001.p.168).  Additionally, depending on the set out requirements different test methods should be used to check the cleaning results to ensure that the surfaces have been properly cleaned. 

In the instance, where the surfaces fail the required test  then re-cleaning should be undertaken to ensure that the surfaces are properly and thoroughly cleaned. It is important to note that thorough cleaning is imperative regardless of whether the dirt residues exist or not to avoid any possible reductions when it comes to the efficiency of the disinfecting agents that are used after the process of cleaning. Additionally, how huge the influence of residues is mostly depends on the nature of such residues, their volume and most of all the nature of the active ingredient in the disinfectant.  In this case, it is possible that microbicidal active ingredient will then no longer be available to kill off the existing germ flora. In addition, microorganisms that are located underneath coatings can also be safe from the effect of the disinfecting agents. 

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High-grade and modern cleaning agents that are used for the safe removal of residue in most instances are made up of various ingredients. The attributes of a good cleaning agent is defined by the Ph-value of that cleaning agent. In that, an alkaline case is used for taking out the organic residues, while acidic cleaning agent is selected to detach the mineral residues. Conversely, in the instance, where the user bound their vision to such  properties  in a cleaning agent then they may disregard the fact that there are a number of more important ingredients that may be used for successful cleaning(Holah,  2014.p.9).  In practice, most of the ingredients combine both functions where they act as both disinfecting and cleaning agents. For instance, even though agents containing chorine are mostly selected for disinfection, they can also be used to get rid of specific deposits. 

Equally, alkaline products are also used to take out unprocessed deposits, but they also contain a disinfecting exploit in them.  Many cleaning instruments are formed with chemical components that are non-reactive because cleaning is founded on the physical contact between for instance, surfactants and the deposited substance that in turn amounts into a solubilisation of the residue (Holah & Lelieveld, 2011.p. 45 ).  As a consequence of such solubilisation of the deposits in the instance, where the remainders of such elements come  into contact  with the foodstuff in the processing plant then the effect may vary from negligible to modest, as it depends on the absorption of the remaining cleaning instrument.  

However, in the instance, where differing disinfectants are used the risk is higher because the residues may survive in sufficient concentration; thus, presenting a huge risk.  Other disinfectants that present additional problems are the ones that are founded on dynamic chlorine such oxygen or iodine.  The two chemicals are reactive to the extent that they can retort with the food component to create novel components.   However, some of these novel apparatus can result into an off-flavour taste on the foods. For example, iodine- and chlorine-based disinfectant can react with the food component to create indophenols and chlorophenols. In turn, these can create off-flavour that may have very low sensory threshold.  Moreover, in case the concentration reaches up to a few parts per million produce then they can create serious off-flavours (Fellows, 2009.p.78).   Therefore, there is a need of ensuring that while disinfecting agents the person is careful to ensure that they do not make contact with the foodstuff as the consequences are dire.  

Detecting disinfecting and cleaning agents in food is a task compared to detecting the same in clean water.  This is due to the conductivity of the cleaning or disinfecting agents is generally superior in food than that of the water that is used in cleaning again. Moreover, an enhancement in conductivity, which would obviously show the existence of outstanding cleaning instruments in rinse water, is complex to notice alongside the milieu of the natural disparity in conductivity in the foodstuff produce. Consequently, this being the case it is imperative to ensure that every possible measure is taken to ensure that the food is not contaminated. By so doing, it will reduce the risks associated with putting out food in the market that has been contaminated with disinfecting and cleaning agents. 

Organization of sanitation programs is imperative to ensure that all the measures that have been set out by the government concerning sanitation and cleaning are followed to the latter.  The legislation set out for this purpose is the EC Directive 96/23 for the Measures to Monitor Certain Substances and Resides Thereof in Live Animals and Animal Products, where DAFM implements and published an annual residues testing plan for the state of Ireland.   The food safety is a  new challenge in this new age of globalisation therefore, necessitating the government to come up with sanitation programs to help in educating the public on the what to look at while purchasing food, to avoid infections (Lelieveld, 2003p. 56). Additionally, these puts a strain on the food processing company to ensure that they ensure that the working areas are clean and they do not contaminate the food that is sold to the consumers. 

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Global Food Safety Initiative is one of the main organizations that are benchmarking the standards of ensuring that the food that is sold in the market is not contaminated with disinfectants or cleaning agents. Moreover, the organization has taken the initiative to spread consumer knowledge to ensure that the people are aware of the conditions that their foods are subjected to in terms of hygiene before it reaches their takes for consumption.  The communication through the social media has allowed proper feedback that has enabled food-processing organizations to work hard towards achieving a clean environment for the products that they produce (Norton & Tiwari, 2013.p.363).  Besides this organization, the government is trying to invite others to educate the public on the measures they should take to ensure that there is quality in the food that they produce by creating audits for the food processing companies. 

The design and layout of food processing factory must be adopted in such a way that it takes into consideration of all hygienic requirements of a specific process, shortage or packaging area. Moreover, the interior of the FPF must be designed in such a way that the flow of personnel, material, air and waste proceed to the right direct ion to avoid any form of contamination.  Additionally, as the factory becomes incorporated into raw materials, food products and elements should move from the unclean to the dirt-free areas.  Conversely, the gush of food dissipates, as well as surplus outer covering resources should be strategically position in the opposite way (Moerman & Leuven, 2006.p.90).  Therefore,  prior to the building of the FPF the simulation of the flow of individuals, products, materials and waste should guide the designer in determine the most suitable place  for installing the process equipment, in the sense that , the utility and process  piping should be created in such a way that it should enter the process area.  Moreover, the simulation of cleaning and maintenance of operations can also be used to establish the most appropriate layout of the factory.  

The factory layout should be in such a way that it takes into consideration the interior hygiene of the factor. This can be done by using construction material and utility piping that are hygienic in the sense that, they should be smooth, non-toxic, easily cleanable and non-absorbent. Additionally, the materials used in the construction of the factory should be chemical resistant to process chemicals, to products, sanitizing and cleaning agents (Moerman, 2016.p.267).  They should also be easy to maintain and physically durable, where they should be resistant to moisture, steam, chipping and abrasion among others.  Therefore, it important for food manufactures to only make use of proper food preservation approach to ensure that food safety is controlled.  Moreover, creating a hygienic food factory requires that he creators of the factory consider the location of the factors and the application of a proper hygienic building concept that will prevent the entry of pest. However, besides this considering other considerations are also important to ensure that the area has proper accessibility of things such as water to ensure that when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces the company is not faced with any challenges. 

In conclusion, the food processing hygiene is something that should be considered in all aspects to ensure that the product is fit for human consumption. Moreover, today many people prefer having fresh food on the markets and for that reason, the food factories have to do their best to ensure that the products that they bring to the market are merchantable quality. Moreover, because the regulations have been properly set out about the food production it is imperative that the food processing factories and plants follow them to the latter to avoid any suits concerning the sale of contaminated food to their consumers.  

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  1. Fellows, P.J., 2009. Food processing technology: principles and practice. Elsevier.
  2. Holah, J. and Lelieveld, H.L. eds., 2011. Hygienic design of food factories. Elsevier.
  3. Holah, J.T., 2014. Cleaning and disinfection practices in food processing-9.
  4. Lelieveld, H. L. M. (2003). Hygiene in food processing. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press.
  5. Moerman, F. and Leuven, K.U.,2006. Hygienic building concepts as a basis for adequate pest management.
  6. Moerman, F., 2016. Personal Hygiene and Good Maintenance Practices for the Servicing of Food Processing Equipment. Food Protection and Security: Preventing and Mitigating Contamination during Food Processing and Production, p.267.
  7. Norton, T. and Tiwari, B.K., 2013. Sustainable Cleaning and Sanitation in the Food Industry. Sustainable Food Processing, p.363.
  8. Panisello, P.J. and Quantick, P.C., 2001. Technical barriers to hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP). Food control, 12(3), pp.165-173.
  10. REGULATION (EC) No 852/2004 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 29 April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs
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