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By Kimberlie Clyma

Unfortunately, there is no magical potion or cleaning compound that can clean and sanitize every corner of a meat and poultry plant. It requires a combination of various cleaning compounds in conjunction with different sanitizing equipment and a staff of committed workers to get the job done in the most effective and efficient manner.

According to Norman Marriott’s “Principles of Food Sanitation,” a typical cleaning operation has the following breakdown of costs: labor, 46.5 percent; water/sewage, 19 percent; energy, 8 percent; cleaning compounds and sanitizers, 6 percent; corrosion damage, 1.5 percent; and miscellaneous, 19 percent.

Labor is naturally the largest cost of cleaning. Investing in mechanical cleaning and sanitizing equipment warrants serious consideration because it can reduce cleaning time and improve efficiency. Labor costs could be reduced by up to 50 percent. Mechanized cleaning units can also more effectively remove soil from surfaces than manual methods performed by hand.

But the right equipment isn’t enough. Skilled employees are mandatory to operate any cleaning and sanitizing equipment. People are also required to perform certain hands-on sanitation tasks. Skilled sanitation employees, as well as a qualified manager, are crucial to getting the job done. Sanitation personnel should know not only how to perform the necessary cleaning but understand the chemicals and cleaning agents needed to get the work done.

Water and sewage are another sizable expense because large quantities of water are used to apply cleaning compounds in food operations and proper sewage disposal of the chemical cleaning compounds is crucial.

The cost and availability of energy for generating hot water and steam are another necessary expense. Most sanitizing systems are most effective when water temperatures are below 55°C. Lower temperatures should be considered to help conserve energy while decreasing the risk of injury associated with excessively hot water.

Cleaning compounds are also unavoidable expenses. The right combination of cleaning compounds, sanitizers and the proper equipment are vital to performing cleaning tasks properly. Chemical costs can be reduced if care is taken to use the correct amounts of cleaning solutions.

Meat and poultry operations contain large amounts of stainless steel, galvanized metal and aluminum equipment, which puts them at risk of corrosion damage if cleaning compounds and sanitizers are used incorrectly. Non-corroding cleaning compounds and sanitizers are available and should be considered to reduce these expenses.

Miscellaneous expenses — estimated at 19 percent — include administrative expenses, equipment depreciation, returned goods and operating costs. The best way to control these expenses is to have a well-managed and monitored sanitation program.

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