Baking & Snack - October 2015 - 90

Joe Stout

Keep It
A well-thought-out and
explained sanitation
procedure keeps a bakery
clean and allergen-free.


During a Christmas past, one of my daughters received a
knitting kit with several rolls of yarn and needles accompanied with knitting directions. This daughter was actually quite intrigued by the thought of making herself an
attractive scarf for the approaching cold, windy months
in Chicago. Shortly after opening, she began reading the
directions but looked irritated and puzzled by them.
A few weeks later, I was working with a customer who
had ordered a new production line. The customer specified labeling certain products without the "may contain"
statement if they didn't contain allergens but were made
in a facility that worked with allergenic ingredients in
other products. This required the baker to perform an
allergen clean following each line changeover. The first
question for me was where to start? How about giving
good directions for cleaning with clear guidance and
communicating them during training sessions using effective techniques? I thought of my daughter, her knitting directions, her puzzled look and the frustration
poor directions caused.
Cleaning any production line is a difficult chore, but
cleaning it to an allergen-free level is a difficult chore
times five. This is especially true for a bakery line that
has a large footprint and hard-to-clean processes and
equipment such as mixers, lane dividers, bucket elevators, ovens, conveyors and packaging conveyors.
Additionally, there is environmental cleaning that needs
to occur to ensure the prevention of cross contamination. Unlabeled nut ingredients make up about 95% of
allergic reactions with consumers and are the most life-

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threatening, so perfection in cleaning is critical.
The first step with this sanitation challenge is to define
the sweet spot - the combination of cleaning methods
and tools to ensure a scientifically valid, effective and
efficient cleaning process. In this case, it would require
wet cleaning, dry cleaning and most likely a modification of both on some equipment. Assembled into a
fully descriptive document, this is called a Sanitation
Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP).
An SSOP is an accurate, clear and detailed standard
process for the effective cleaning of each unit of food
processing equipment (e.g. mixers and scales) and infrastructure (e.g. walls and floor drains). An effective SSOP
is created using systematic, repeatable cleaning principles. It must be validated initially for effectiveness, and
then the results are verified with each use to prove the
SSOP was followed. The SSOP must be well-documented as the legal record of cleaning.
A well-written binder of SSOPs is the foundation for
every effective and efficient sustainable sanitation program. It helps with planning a cleaning event and predicts the time needed to clean, the number of people required, and tools, utilities and total downtime involved
for sanitation, maintenance, pre-op and so forth. A plan
and procedure are needed to train employees effectively.
If a plant needs to be clean, it starts with SSOPs so the
cleaning process can be both effective and efficient.
The goal of the cleaning is to transition a plant from
a soiled state to a clean state and thus enable production
to start. As we do this, experience tells us there are no
varied levels of clean. When asked if the plant is clean,
we should never say, "Well, almost, except for ..." This is
unacceptable. Clean is clean, and there is no in-between.
If your company and plant are going to win every day
for food safety, the facility needs to be clean - period.
Well-defined SSOPs and employees who understand
and execute them perfectly pave the way for food safety.
When creating an effective and efficient SSOP, it's

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - October 2015