What are the components of an effective cleaning program?
We all know that cleaning within a food business is imperative to the health and safety of both your food products and of your customer. The majority of food standards or food regulations around the world always will have a provision that the place, the food premises, equipment utensils are required to be clean. So what are the type of things that make up an effective cleaning program?
First thing is to have a documented cleaning schedule in place. A cleaning schedule is an indication of what’s going to be done when, how and by who. When we talk about what’s going to be done, you need to go through and list what pieces of equipment, what utensils, what part of the premises is going to be subjected to the cleaning.
The when is the frequency of cleaning. How often are you going to go through and undertake the cleaning? Is it going to be daily, weekly, after use, monthly, quarterly or six monthly.
How you are going to do the cleaning. This is around your procedures. Having documented procedures in place or systems ensures that everybody who undertakes that task of cleaning will do it exactly the same way. So we need to write down how we’re actually going to clean particular items. You may have a procedure on how vents are going to be cleaned, how the cool room is going to be cleaned, how floors are going to be swept, how the dishwasher is going to operate, how the outside of the premises is going to be cleaned. Whatever you come up with, put it down in the procedure, document it.
Allocating somebody as being responsible for that cleaning will make sure it gets done – giving somebody accountability. In general I have found if nobody is given accountability, the cleaning doesn’t get done. For each item that has to be cleaned, allocate a person who is responsible.
The second part of our effective cleaning program is to make sure there is adequate training in place. Training should include training around those procedures on how to undertake the cleaning, training on the use of the chemicals and the use of the cleaning equipment.
The food industry requires that the chemicals that you do have in place for cleaning within your food business are fit for purpose and they are going to do the job that you want and need them to do. In addition to cleaning chemicals, you need to make sure that you have got the suitable equipment to undertake the cleaning. Cleaning equipment can include things like scourers, mops, dishwashers, scrapers, hot water, gurneys, brooms, brushes, dustpans.
Immediate versus long-term cleaning
When you look at your cleaning program you need to make sure that you are covering the immediate cleaning of items plus the long term. There will be things that you clean every day whether it be after use or at the end of the day or at the end of production, and there will be other items that get cleaned say on a frequency that’s a bit longer. These may be your ceiling or the tops of your walls or on top of cool rooms, air conditioning vents.
Verifying the cleaning process
With any type of cleaning there needs to be some type of verification process in place. What this means is you need somebody to check that the cleaning has been performed and done to a level that is adequate to achieve the outcome of the premises being cleaned or the item/utensil being cleaned. So generally I use the rule that if you shouldn’t be able to see it, smell it or feel any type of dust, grime, dirt, matter.
And another way to verify your cleaning is by undertaking microbiological swabbing. This could be a practice or verification activity that’s employed in a high-risk food premises where the microbiological safety is one of higher concern.
I have just run through a couple of the different ways to make sure that you have an effective cleaning program in place, whatever method that you come up with, just make sure that you have that inspection component. The whole point of having a clean premises is the definition around clean that means you can’t see it, can’t smell it, and you can’t feel it.