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Learn more about the use of degreasers in the food and beverage processing industry 

Keeping food and beverage processing equipment clean is an essential part of making sure our food supply is safe. It requires a strong background in science, good problem-solving skills, and the ability to contribute to a team. Lucie Cherpozat, Project Coordinator in our Chemical Support department, has been applying these skills and abilities to provide chemical support to Sani Marc clients since 2020. In this edition of ‘Your Questions in Good Hands, Lucie shares some essential information about the use of degreasers in the cleaning process of food and beverage processing plants. 

Q: Where does degreasing fit into the cleaning process? What do we have to consider? 

A: Before the actual cleaning process begins, we usually do a pre-rinse to remove the most residue possible. Then we begin the degreasing process to remove any organic matter. To ensure we use the right degreasing product and process, we have to take into account the type of soil, surface and equipment to be cleaned, the customers’ budget and the working environment. We want to ensure that the product we use is compatible with the surface or equipment being cleaned.  

Q: How can you be sure that the degreasing has been effective? 

A: You can see it. A dirty surface will have a mat finish. If the surface is still greasy, when you spray it with water, the water will form beads, like what you would see if you poured water on a freshly waxed vehicle. In a CIP system we monitor fluctuations in the parameters (pH, conductivity) until they stabilize. The level will stabilize when the soap stops being consumed, which indicates that it has nothing left to react to, and all the organic matter has been removed.   

Q: What are the biggest challenges and problems encountered in degreasing plants? 

A: Overall, the challenges are roughly the same issues as other wash steps, but a good example is Canada’s ban on the use of trans fats which forced producers to switch to non-trans oils. The problem is that non-trans oils leave a residue that is more difficult to remove and they are harder to remove from a surface than animal fat, so we had to create a special product just for that.  

The time allotted for cleaning can also be a challenge. For instance, after the start of the pandemic there was an increase in demand for ready-to-eat items. This requires longer production times. If a client usually produces in cycles of 6 hours followed by one hour of cleaning doubles his production time to 12 hours, but maintains the one hour of cleaning time, we have to clean twice the amount of soil in the usual amount of time, so we have to adapt.  

Another issue is that clients are becoming more careful about water consumption and they are looking more closely at the concentration of contaminants contained in their wastewater, so these things become concerns of ours too. Any time water conservation becomes a challenge, moving towards gel formulas is a good way to go. Gel formulas rinse more easily from surfaces and therefore use less water, which means less contaminated water in the drains and less water consumption for the cleaning step.  

Q: Are there food industry sectors in which degreasing is more difficult? Why is this?   

A: Not really, because the challenges don’t necessarily come down to one specific factor or ingredient. The degree of difficulty is the same in all sectors; it just depends on the location, how their processes are done, the equipment and the manpower the client has at their disposal. 

Q: Are there different types of degreasers? How do we choose the one that meets our needs?  

A: Yes, there are! We have about 40 degreasers in a wide range of formats: Foaming/non-foaming, gel, chlorinated/non-chlorinated, solvent based, products designed for CIP and niche products which are products that are very specific to a particular industry. Choosing the right degreaser is a team effort. The Technical Representatives and Account Managers gather as much information as they can about the soil, equipment, needs, capacity and limitations of the client. After, they come to us, the Chemical Support, so we can make an informed and personalised recommendation.  

Q: When do you offer a gel product vs foam? 

A: Our gels and foams don’t necessarily have the same concentration of chlorine or acid, so it depends which is required, but if we have a foam and a gel that are equivalent, we will encourage the client to opt for the gel, as it will be effective and economical in terms of water consumption, which is more beneficial to them. 

Q: Name our top three products and in what context should we use them? 

A: Our top three would be Chloragel, Maximum and TFF Gel. Chloragel is a powerful oxidizing formula that rapidly eliminates blood, protein, oil and grease deposits. Maximum is best suited for CIPs and has sequestrants. TFF GEL rises to the challenge of cleaning non trans fats and burned on residues like caramel.  

Want to know more about gel technology? Read our Technical Bulletin, available at sanimarc.com