Tip of the Week: Stopping Hidden Danger In Its Tracks: Prevention Series

We're continuing our Hidden Danger: Prevention series this week by turning our attention to beverage facilities. Each product segment in the food industry faces unique risks and hazards related to the processes and equipment they use. We're highlighting some segment-specific hidden dangers and recommending prevention measures to stop them in their tracks.

Hidden Danger: Spray balls are used in beverage and other facilities to facilitate the regular cleaning of tanks. They clean the tanks by dousing the interior surfaces with high-velocity jets of hot water and/or chemicals. This process is called clean-in-place (CIP) and can be a hidden danger leading to unclean tanks.

Solution: It is recommended to implement a spray ball inspection procedure to detect any foreign material, prevent product contamination, and ensure sanitation efficiency. Obstructed spray balls could impact your microbial program. It is also important to provide CIP system strainers to prevent foreign material accumulation in the spray balls and retain them before obstructing the system. To achieve a robust program, the source of any unusual foreign objects in the strainer should be identified and addressed.

Hidden Danger: Blocked or obstructed strainers

Solution: The best industry practice to prevent re-introduction of foreign bodies after CIP washes would be to install strainers on the return of the CIP washing solution. The strainer mesh should be no larger than .5 mm in order to retain fine parts of the damaged in-line gaskets.

Hidden Danger: It is very common in beverage facilities where glass returnable bottles are used for there to be a lack of control when bulk detergent is received and handled. Sometimes the receiving cap, hose, and storage tank are not secured, inspected, or maintained.

Solution: If the bulk detergent used to clean returnable bottles is in contact with food, take measures to ensure that the receiving cap and/or hose are secured and stored away from the floor. Add the detergent storage tanks to your preventive maintenance schedule to ensure that the contact surface is in good condition and the cover and hatches are completely sealed to prevent foreign material contamination. Don’t forget that this detergent is very corrosive, so take all measures to protect personnel.

Hidden Danger: Metal-on-metal contact inside screw conveyors (for powder sugar) could cause metal contamination risks.

Solution: Try to open the hatches of the screw conveyor and look for scratches in the inner body of the conveyor. If there are no hatches, try to inspect the base of the conveyor from the sugar collection hopper. This would be possible if the hopper was empty.

If scratches are present, the maintenance personnel should smooth the scratches and fix the axis of the screw conveyor at the earliest stoppage.

Hidden Danger: Metal on metal contact inside syrup pumps could contaminate the syrup with metal pieces.

Solution: Open the cover of the pump’s impeller on an idle line. If scratches are present on the cover of the impeller, the maintenance technicians should smooth and fix the axis of the impeller so that it does not touch its cover.

Hidden Danger: Possible insect infestation of the sugar silos.

Solution: After climbing to the top of the silo, check the ventilation tubes. If there were no filters, there could be potential risks of insect entry especially if insect activity (such as wasps) was observed. It is recommended to install filters at the ventilation tubes and periodically clean the areas around the silos from sugar spillages.

Hidden Danger: Possible foreign body contamination of the dissolved sugar.

Solution: The signs of a foreign material contamination are items such as plastic threads and wood splinters observed on the surface of the dissolved sugar. As a solution, it is important to train the operators to open and dump sugar bags in a way that prevents foreign bodies from falling inside the sugar hopper. In addition, the sugar dissolving tanks should be periodically cleaned.

Hidden Danger: Many facilities rely on CIP for cleaning the fillers. These can not reach slime accumulation on the upper or lower parts of the filler heads as well as the bases of the fillers and the lower parts of the transfer wheels.

Solution: If the filler stops for a break during the production time, inspect the filler in detail for evidence of slime. As a solution, the facility should develop manual cleaning procedures to effectively remove the slime in hard to reach areas.

Hidden Danger: Slime development in hard to reach areas, such as the inside the warmers, could contaminate the processed containers.

Solution: Manual cleaning of the hard to reach areas, especially the warmers and around the inner nozzles, must be included in the cleaning process.

Hidden Danger: Underground or metal tanks that store treated water are at risk of possible contamination.

Solution: Open the cover of the underground storage tank. In many cases, food grade coating would be applied on the walls of the underground tanks. This coating should be periodically maintained, otherwise it would start to flake and create contamination risks. For metal tanks, try to look for signs of rust or flaking coating as well.

Hidden Danger: Oil leaks from motors onto mixing rods at mixing tanks, which could contaminate mixed ingredients.

Solution: Look from the hatches of the mixing tanks to the top of the mixing rods for possible oil leaks. In the case of oil leakage, the gaskets between the mixing rod and the motor should be replaced