Q&A: Contamination Control in Food Processing

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Last month, we hosted a free webinar on contamination control in food processing. The goal was to educate food-industry professionals about maintenance tools that can help them mitigate contaminants before they cause problems.

If you missed the live event, you can watch the webcast on demand here:

3 Steps to Contamination Control in Food Processing

Here is an edited version of the Q&A.

Topic 1: Preventative Maintenance

How do you shift an organization’s mindset from reactive to preventative?  What’s a good first step?

Implementing new changes involves a culture change from top to bottom. Everyone has to buy in for it to work. We offer site assessments, demos, training and preventative maintenance schedules for our industrial vacuums and floorcare machines. It’s a good way to hold everyone accountable through the entire process and ensure operators are comfortable using new equipment. It also puts managers at ease knowing that the investment is taken care of and equipment is being used in an appropriate way according to the organization’s food safety plan.

Where can I get a copy of the Preventative Controls Rule?

You can find more information on preventative controls for human food on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration website. Here are additional FDA resources and tools you may find useful:

Does Nilfisk perform testing to determine if dust is combustible?

No. However, we can supply you with a list of third-party testing groups that can. Once you have the results in hand, we can help you decide on an appropriate vacuum solution.

Topic 2: Cleaning Equipment

When it comes to scrubbers, can you just change out the brush/pad before using it in another processing area?

If you need to assure prevention of cross-contamination, than unfortunately, no. You need to sanitize all aspects of the scrubber and not just change out the pad as other areas of the equipment may have attracted contaminants. For this reason, in many facilities, equipment is dedicated to a specific processing area rather than transported and used in multiple areas. 

There are many sanitizing chemicals available on the market and many food facilities already have these types of sanitizers on hand. To clean the equipment, we recommend putting the sanitizer in a pump up sprayer and then spray down the recovery tank, brushes/pads, squeegee assembly, undercarriage and wheels.  After spraying the wheels, drive over tack paper to keep them clean.

Does Nilfisk sell the chemicals used in the floor machines?

We do not. Nilfisk specializes strictly in the manufacturing of the equipment so that the customer can purchase the aftermarket chemical that suits their facilities’ needs.

Can industrial vacuums be used in wet applications?

Yes, they definitely can but you should notify your vacuum supplier about this need ahead of time. That’s why Nilfisk performs a site assessment to understand all the needs before equipment is brought into a facility for a demo. Most Nilfisk vacuums are set-up for dry applications but there are different options that can be installed such as coalescent filters, drain valves, cyclone filter protectors, etc. if you want to collect water with some food particulate.

Can an industrial wet vacuum be used to collect oil?

Yes, we have a range of vacuums to collect coolant and lubricants in metalworking environments but you could also use them to collect cooking oil as well.

What kind of cleaning equipment do you recommend for oil and other agriculture commodities?

Floorcare equipment and industrial vacuums may be used depending on the application. Nilfisk also offers cold and hot water high pressure washers that are popular within these industries for cleaning and sanitizing. We would have to conduct a site assessment of the facility before making a formal equipment recommendation.

What cleaning method do you recommend to prevent contamination from organic matter?

There are a few models that may work for the application such as the CS7010 combination sweeper-scrubber or VHC200 pneumatic vacuum cleaner. However, we would have to conduct a site assessment of the facility before making formal equipment recommendations. This would include evaluating the area, process, type and volume of material, and current cleaning methods (if any).

What does FSMA say about cleaning the inside of things, such as the inside of an electric motor?

We recommend contacting your parts supplier for detailed cleaning instructions and protocol.

We hope you find this information useful. Have more questions? Please don’t hesitate to ask!

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Nilfisk America

9435 Winnetka Ave N
Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

Phone: 800-989-2235
Fax: 800-989-6566

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