Why cleaning and sanitisation is crucial for drinks manufacturing
The UK Food and Drink Industry has a turnover of more than £105bn, accounting for almost 20% of total UK manufacturing. 96% of the UK’s 7,400 food and drink manufacturing businesses are comprised of SMEs. Drinks manufacturing in particular is formed of a vast array of producers be they breweries, distilleries, wineries, soft drinks and more. They all however share similar business difficulties especially when it comes to hygiene.
So why should drinks manufacturers care about the cleanliness of their plants?
- Better product
Protecting the integrity and the quality of the product, whether it’s a revered bottle of wine, aged whisky, beloved beer, or your favourite soft drink flavour comes first! BUT these tastes can be delicate. If sufficient attention is not paid to proper cleaning and sanitation during its production, and the bottles carry soiling or residue, the flavour can be sullied. Maintaining good quality is paramount to earning and retaining consumer confidence. Simply put good production hygiene is good business.
- Avoid legal issues
Being within the food industry, producers, under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the General Food Law Regulation 178/2002, are responsible for ensuring that the food & drink is safe and of expected quality. Compliance with the regulations issued by agencies and authorities in order to produce and market its product. Keeping your plant at a high level of sanitisation will go a long way to comply with these regulations.
- Good business practice
Maintaining a clean plant, simply put, is just prudent business practice. A clean and safe working environment is good for worker’s morale; increases plant efficiency avoids injury, protection, and longevity of equipment. For instance, the HSE describes when “an employee was standing on the top of a food production plant as she washed it with a hose. She slipped, fell off the plant and fell 2m, breaking her arm.” Just as an employee being hurt is terrible, likewise if a consumer was to become sick from a contaminated product the negative effects would be catastrophic.
Not only that, with the ever-growing importance of food tourism, for distilleries, breweries and cellars presenting a clean, aesthetically pleasing processing plant demonstrates that a high level of care is provided throughout, which should be reflected in the final product.
Pressure washers - too much water down the drain
Pressure washers have been a mainstay for all large cleaning tasks across all industries, not just car washes, they have their uses for sure but it’s outdated and not nearly as efficient using them to swill out bottles or blast barrels and tanks cleans. Efficiency in this case going beyond wastewater residue within these containers BUT the amount of water that simply runs down into plugs or the drain. When you consider typical vineyards – the Mediterranean sun cooking arid hillsides – water is not plentiful. Not only that but in terms of running a business, the more water used the more it’s going to cost you.
Pressure washer- 8 gallons (30.28 Litres) per minute
Steam Cleaner 0.1 gallons (00.50 Litres) per minute, at most
Using around 99% less water every minute!
It is time to consider an environmental and economic alternative that not only raises the temperature to a level which "sterilises" but uses virtually no water – this is why our machines are on the DEFRA Approved Water Technology List.
Aside from producing minimal wastewater, generating steam is quick, saves money and is considerably more effective at achieving a deep clean than a typical 75oC water "bath."
Raising the water’s temperature above 100°C elevates the "kill ratio" or LD (Lethal Dose) on moulds and bacteria beyond sanitary to sterile. For years, this is why steam has been the standard for the medical and pharmaceutical industries.
The benefits of steam, however, far outweigh the disadvantages, and in the pursuit of better hygiene in processing plants and with an eye to the environment, we looked at the core applications of steam. The first task, however, is to define the theory behind steam cleaning, including latent heat of vaporization.
How Steam Works
Hot water alone is not an efficient cleaner - the transference of heat [stored energy] is via absorption, requiring a constant flow or “bath”, meaning more time, more energy to keep the water hot and more water.
The time taken to get a surface’s temperature to sterile levels is therefore reduced hugely with a fraction of the water that a ‘bath’ would have taken.
There are 2 types of steam - "wet” and “dry” steam. “Wet steam” is for the most part what you see coming out the top of a kettle and it contains more than 5% water. A two-phase mix: steam contains droplets of water that have not changed phase. “Wet steam” may cause corrosion in vulnerable equipment, it also lowers the heat transfer efficiency of steam, which results in a less efficient sterilisation procedure.
When it comes to utilising steam for cleaning purposes what you want is "dry” or “saturated" steam. This means that 98% of the total water "droplets" have been fully converted into gas. Latent heat of dry steam transfers all its heat [stored energy], over 100oC on contact with a surface. This blasts through biofilm that harbours potentially dangerous microbes.
This is by far the most effective variant for cleaning purposes, as it leaves surfaces sanitised, it avoids damaging drinks manufacturing machinery or equipment via corrosion and it can also be used on electrical equipment.
The Benefits for Drinks Manufacturing
Introducing dry steam technology into your plant’s hygiene protocols can be best defined by the four big Es:
Dry steam cleaning hugely reduces water usage and removes the reliance on costly chemicals - making it more economical.
It is efficient as one machine can do the work of 10, with minimal set and heating up time, no additional chemicals and a small amount of water, clean and sanitise any surface.
Dry steam reduces the time it takes to achieve effective levels of cleanliness and sterilization and reach higher levels of environmental hygiene - proven to achieve a greater than 5-log reduction.
Achieving this with huge reductions in wastewater and without the use of harsh chemicals contributes to reducing your impact on the environment (with a bonus of saving costs on chemicals too).
For a long time, steam has been the standard for the majority of the medical and pharmaceutical industries and should be considered for drinks manufacturing, especially with all of the concerns about Brett, bacteria and moulds - plus the looming water and energy benchmarks that are slowly descending on the industry.
To find out more about how drinks manufacturing can use dry steam to improve cleaning with bottling plants and facilities, read our article here.