Clean in Place Systems Keep Food Safe in Food Processing Plants
Clean in Place systems, also known as CIP systems are primarily used in food processing to keep processed foods safe and sanitary. The system uses a pre-rinse and various wash systems to prevent cross-contamination of manufactured food.
Without using a clean in place, most food processors would have to shut their doors or close their facilities. A CIP system can be quite elaborate in design, depending on the kind of food that is being processed.
A clean in place system reduces the loss of heat and lowers the energy that is consumed in the production operation. Water usage is also minimized. As a result, the system features a multitude of steps, each of which includes a first and last step for draining the water. A pre-rinse stage is always featured along with an alkali wash. In some instances, acid wash and post wash phases are included as well.
Food that is chased through a clean in place system can undergo rinsing or washing for as little as five minutes, or for as long as 60 minutes at a time. A cycle that sanitizes the product is facilitated in order to reduce the chance of bacterial contamination. Oxidants are added during the sanitary cycle, but later completely removed to prevent the development of corrosion on the steel equipment.
Five Fundamental CIP Steps
In essence, a CIP operation is comprised of five fundamental steps. Typically, a pre-rinse is utilized followed by a hot detergent cleaning cycle. After the hot detergent wash, an intermediate rinse is implemented right before the sanitation cycle and the end rinse.
When a CIP process is initiated, the pre-rinse water is transported by way of a circuit, which causes the water to follow the food. During this stage, a timing sequence begins operating, which is based on distances and flow rates of the foods that are being produced. Valves, in turn, are switched on and off at the proper intervals so the interface between the food and rinse water can be reduced.
A clean in place system indeed produces hygienic and clean products, as most of the food residue (90%) is removed. As soon as the rinse water becomes “muddy,” this step of the process is automatically stopped. Cleaning the food is health-based, and therefore includes such elements as detergent strength, the time utilized during cleaning, and specific measures concerning temperature, coverage and activity.
For any food producers, a CIP system is the lifeblood of a food manufacturing plant. Without the system in place, downtime would increase significantly, and marketing shipments would be stalled. In addition, food safety would easily become a problem. Today’s innovative food processing technologies makes clean and safe operations an important part of providing safe and reliable food. That is why CIP systems and tools are used for processing food in the grocery and restaurant industries.