Major Components of Sanitizing Food Production

Sunair Co. carries high-quality sanitary pumps and equipment to ensure your food and beverage operations adhere to industry health and safety regulations.

food worker holding a tablet while inspecting production equipment

Published December 21, 2022   |   9 minute read

Utilizing the appropriate equipment and cleaning practices will help maintain the integrity of your food production processes.

Sunair carries the highest-quality sanitary pumps and equipment from leading manufacturers to handle a wide variety of applications while adhering to the stringent requirements of food and beverage production.

The Importance of Sanitation in Food & Beverage Production

A chief consideration in food and beverage production is maintaining compliance with state, federal, and industry regulatory standards. Specific health requirements and sanitation procedures may differ according to sectors—meat, seafood, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, as examples—but it’s imperative you understand and comply with such specifications.

Food and beverage manufacturing is held to a high standard for important reasons, since improperly handling these products and processes could result in contamination and foodborne illnesses.

Failing to meet compliance standardscan also result in costly consequences such as fines and facility shutdowns, and can be devastating for an operator's bottom line—as well as permanently eroding consumer confidence if repeated offenses occur.

The most effective way to ensure the quality of your products and safeguard the public, your team, and your brand’s reputation is by utilizing the right sanitary equipment from the top manufacturers in the industry!

Requirements of Sanitary Pumps & Equipment

Sanitary pumps are characterized by their specialized design and material makeup to ensure product safety. As there are a wide range of operational environments and conditions related to food production, sanitary pumps must be constructed of corrosion-resistant materials able to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures, without compromising the product.

Additionally, contact surfaces should feature materials and design elements with hygienic properties that are easy to sterilize repeatedly, to further prevent contamination.

Sanitary pumps are most commonly certified by either 3-A Sanitary Standards Inc (3-A SSI) or the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG).

3A was founded in the 1920s by regulatory sanitarians, food processors, and equipment manufacturers to develop sanitary equipment standards within the dairy industry. Today, 3-A SSI maintains extensive specifications, theoretical standards, and guidelines describing design features of sanitary equipment that promote cleanability; for example, within pumps, design criteria for component parts such as mechanical seals, end covers, and rotors.

Until recently, manufacturers self-certified their equipment to 3-A standard but, since 2003, 3-A SSI has used Third-Party Verification (TPV) inspections to certify compliance.

The formation of EHEDG in 1989 was spearheaded by the multinational consumer goods company Unilever in response to the industry’s difficulty at that time procuring hygienic equipment. Today, EHEDG membership has grown into a consortium of equipment manufacturers, food processors, research institutes, and public health authorities.

Although established at different times and by different parties, 3-A SSI and EHEDG share the same stated goal of improving hygienic standards in the food and pharmaceutical industries, and they increasingly collaborate together to harmonize new or revised standards.

EHEDG differs from 3A-SSI in that it provides guidelines that help fulfill European hygienic legislation requirements, rather than comprehensive specifications and standards, and requires practical testing of theoretical design standards to ensure required cleanliness levels are achieved. Its design guidelines are more general and may allow approval of design deviations, provided practical hygienic testing standards are met.

Current validation testing methods include:

  • In-Place Cleanability of Small & Moderately-Sized Closed Equipment Including Pumps

  • Steam Sterilizability

  • Bacteria Tightness

Qualifying equipment must make use of FDA-approved or compliant materials. They must be applied within their safe temperature range, suitable for use in an environment subject to cleaning and sanitizing, and safe when in contact with moisture, acids, bases, or fats. FDA-compliant pumps that are not 3A or EHEDG certified can generally be used to transport ingredients into the process before the final product is created, but when necessary, plant personnel are encouraged to check with their appropriate regulatory agencies.

Additional standards to be aware of include:

  • National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) - Primarily relates to end-point food contact such as in commercial kitchen preparation or dispensing, such as soda and water fountains in fast food restaurants. Manufacturers can receive NSF Certification by completing a costly and comprehensive certification process.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Pertains to design and materials of construction in dairy, meat, and poultry production. Manufacturers can receive a USDA Certificate of Acceptance through a costly and comprehensive certification process.

In bioprocessing, pharmaceutical and personal-care products industries, other important standards include:

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Bioprocess Equipment (ASME BPE) - The leading standard on how to design and build equipment and systems used in the production of biopharmaceuticals. This covers materials, design, fabrication, inspections, testing and certification best design practices for pipes, valves, fittings, pumps, mechanical seals, and bioreactors.

  • U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Class VI - This testing aims to certify there are no harmful reactions or long-term bodily effects caused by chemicals that leach out of plastic materials. Standards are determined by the U.S. Pharmacopeia and National Formulary (USP-NF), the organization responsible for the quality and safety of medical devices and foods.

Choosing the right sanitary pumps and equipment for your processes is pivotal to the overall success of your operations.

The Major Elements of Food Production Sanitation

Sanitation generally encompasses all of the various practices and processes designed to guarantee the safety and cleanliness of your products and equipment.

Surface & Equipment Cleaning

Proper sanitation procedures must be adhered to for all contact surfaces, including workstations, equipment, utensils, and anything else that may come into proximity with your products or ingredients.

You also need a system in place for non-surface equipment and environmental conditions within your plant that could indirectly affect the safety of your food products, facility, or personnel.

Many pieces of equipment in your food production plant require different methods of sanitization depending on their nature and usage, including but not limited to the following:

  • Clean-in-Place (CIP) - Automated chemical cleaning of pumps, vessels, piping, and other equipment. The CIP solution is circulated by pumps and does not require disassembly of the equipment. Care must be taken to ensure the fluid velocity (flow rate by pipe size) is high enough to properly clean. Sometimes, production pumps can also serve as their own CIP pump, such as in the case of the Q-Pumps QTS twin-screw pump.

  • Clean-Out-of-Place (COP) - Equipment is partially disassembled and manually cleaned in custom pressure tanks.

  • Sanitize-in-Place (SIP) - Also referred to as Steam-in-Place, this is sterilization at the end of the CIP process, without equipment disassembly, ensuring remaining microorganisms are killed off with hot water or saturated pure steam at high temperatures (>121°C). This process is more applicable to bioprocessing, pharmaceutical, and personal-care products industries.

Product Integrity & Sanitation

Food products and ingredients are typically sanitized using specially approved disinfectants along with hot water or steam. These processes only function correctly when you use the right pumps and equipment able to withstand harsh chemicals, high temperatures, and the potentially hazardous conditions required to meet the high health and safety standards in the food and beverage industry.

Sanitary centrifugal and positive-displacement pumps play key roles in transporting your products safely throughout the production process—while mitigating the risk of contamination. We carry a diverse range of sanitary and FDA-compliant pump equipment from Q-Pumps, Seepex, Discflo, Albin, Fybroc, and Yamada, all renowned producers of reliable, long-lasting, and efficient sanitary pumps.

NSF-certified pumps are also available from various manufacturers represented by Sunair Co., including Sulzer, DP Pumps, and National Pump.

However–sometimes, pumps do not need to be sanitary or fully FDA compliant:

Cornell’s P and PP series Hydro-Transport pumps are designed and manufactured solely for gentle transport of food products including fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Its W, Y, RH, and RB pumps are specially designed for hot oil applications such as fryers, which contain water from food products. Cornell’s anti-cavitation system prevents impairment of the pump’s flow and head that would otherwise occur during steaming.

Chocolate is often pumped with cast iron gear pumps, because any metal is easily removed downstream by magnetic strainers. Sanitary pumps are required when handling dairy-containing products such as milk chocolate.

Food product sanitation processes do not require sanitary pumps. A facility often may utilize high-pressure pump equipment such as pitot-tube pumps manufactured by Thomas Pump, or DP vertical multi-stage pumps,, for example.

Plants also require reliable wastewater management systems, which is why Sunair carries a wide range of wastewater pumps, mixers, aerators, blowers, and equipment from trusted brands including Sulzer, ABS , Seepex, Fybroc, or Pioneer.

Hygiene & Cleaning Practices

Just as important as your product and surface hygiene are your team’s sanitary practices. Ensure each member is trained in the right health and safety procedures, and how to properly utilize cleaning utensils and chemicals.

Standard practice as recommended by NSF includes the following:

  • Remove debris using a lint-free cloth or wipe, scraper, floor mops, brushes, dry or low moisture steaming, or vacuuming to physically remove soil deposits.

  • Rinse residues using warm potable water (<120 deg F). Dry food processors may use an interim dry cleaning process between periodic wet cleanings.

  • Apply detergents or chemical cleaners to remove fat and protein, and scrub. Dry area cleaning should be disassembled so parts can be cleaned and sanitized, preferably after taking them to a separate cleaning area, and returning them once dry.

  • Before sanitizing, rinse thoroughly with potable water to remove detergents and residues, except in dry areas where cleaning is performed in a separate area or with minimal water.

  • Inspect and spot clean any areas where there are still visible signs of residue or detergent, paying special attention to hard-to-reach places.

  • Sanitize or disinfect to reduce bacterial load. Dry product areas should be cleaned using a dry disinfection process such as an alcohol-based, quick-drying product that doesn’t require rinsing.

  • Dry using an air drying process to avoid recontamination or a leave-on product that evaporates quickly.

The intensity of rinsing and wash-down processes can be managed through proper training as well as use of variable nozzle spray guns such as are available from manufacturers like Thomas Pump, and variable frequency drive (VFD) of a facility’s high-pressure cleaning pumps, or separate high- and low-pressure pumps.

How to Optimize Your Sanitation Processes

There are myriad moving pieces and interconnected operations involved in food and beverage sanitation, and facilitating all these are various key components ensuring optimal safety and efficiency.

These encompass everything from standard cleaning and maintenance functions to the specific types of materials within such specialized equipment.

A manufacturer should follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and must document cleaning and sanitizing procedures into its Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs). These are critical components of a facility’s Hazard Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, and must be reviewed regularly and kept up to date and on file at the facility.

An SSOP must include:

  • Description of Responsible Personnel Performing the Procedures

  • Safety Measures Taken to Protect Consumers & Employees

  • Methods for Safely Handling Chemicals

  • Descriptions of Equipment & Areas to Be Cleaned

  • Required Points of Inspection

  • Schedule for Performing Cleaning Procedures

  • Methods Used to Verify Cleaning Activities

  • Procedures & Tools Required for Disassembly of Equipment or an Area of the Plant

  • Methods Used for Cleaning & Sanitizing

Ensuring your operations meet required food and beverage sanitation standards demands use of compliant equipment engineered to meet such health and safety guidelines.

Choose Sunair for the Best Selection of Sanitary Pumps & Equipment

Ensuring maximum efficiency and compliance entails utilizing the best pumps and equipment designed and manufactured for food processing applications according to FDA regulations; effective and durable enough to withstand extreme operational, maintenance, and sanitation conditions; and developed by the most reliable and trustworthy brands.

This is why Sunair Co. partners with the top manufacturers and suppliers throughout the industry with the highest-quality inventory of 3-A SSI- and EHEDG- certified, and FDA-compliant industrial food processing pumps and reliability equipment for whatever your food and beverage production operations demand.

Our maintenance and repair experts assist with everything from installations and regular maintenance to reliability upgrades and breakdown services. We’ll even walk you through how to safely disassemble and clean your Sunair pumps while minimizing downtime.

To learn more about our extensive list of products and services, or to get started outfitting your operations, contact Sunair today.

The health of personnel and customers, and safety of products and services, are of utmost importance within the food and beverage industry. All operations are closely monitored, and must adhere to stringent regulatory standards. Consistent and thorough sanitation processes help ensure quality while protecting your team and equipment against contamination risks.

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