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What is clean?

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:28 PM

Here's a million dollar question: What is the definition of 'clean'?


The USDA devotes 75 pages of 9 CFR to labeling policies and definitions, but five pages to sanitation? More specifically, 1/2 page to sanitary operations. So they have made it clear that they aren't going to give a clear definition.  :yeahrite:


The Food Code defines it as such: 

4-601.11 Equipment, Food-Contact Surfaces, Nonfood-Contact Surfaces, and Utensils.*

        (A) Equipment food-contact surfaces and utensils shall be clean to sight and touch.

        (B) The food-contact surfaces of cooking equipment and pans shall be kept free of encrusted grease deposits and other soil accumulations.

        © Nonfood-contact surfaces of equipment shall be kept free of an accumulation of dust, dirt, food residue, and other debris.


Now.... I understand how relative this topic may be, so I think we can already understand how and why regulatory bodies avoid defining this. However, just looking to flush out some helpful strategies to an organoleptic inspection process. 


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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:45 PM

What IS clean?


Without getting TOO metaphysical, I would focus on clean to sight and touch. You get to determine what that means.  Can you feel grease, see grease, etc? You need to remove it. 


Then after that has been removed, what are you looking for----allergens? Is the any microbial action? Are there any cleaning chemical residues?  You will need to find tests that show these items are not on your food contact areas.






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Posted 04 August 2014 - 09:03 PM

I agree with Setanta how ever we take it one step further and define an item as being clean when it passes ATP  swabbing. The system that we use gives an numerical value under 10 is good, 11-30 is caution still passing but you need to be paying more attention to this area. Over 30 gets rewashed. This is a pretty black and white system it is either passes or it is doesn't. This system has really helped our crew focus on areas that we thought were being cleaned adequately  cleaned but weren't and at the same time showing them where they were doing a good job.  


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Posted 05 August 2014 - 04:29 AM

Dear All + (apparently) Food Code,


Oh Dear,


To slightly expand post #2, may I propose the esteemed Bacterium ?


And a dozen previous threads. Not that the topic is exhausted, far from it. :thumbup:


Rgds / Charles.C

Kind Regards,




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Posted 05 August 2014 - 10:42 AM

Clean = surface you would let your mother eat off


Clean = whatever you say it is, so how to determine what it is at your factory?


I had this problem at a mill where QA would inspect after changeovers / cleaning, and with a 24/7 high stress operation there was a LOT of argument over what was clean and what wasn't. Dry clean only 4 hour change overs - what a nightmare!  And we weren't cleaning to ATP 0; we wouldn't have run.  We were cleaning to "No chunks of rotting flour", which was pretty difficult as it was since the stuff clumped up & started stinking and turning yellow (soy flour + barley malt + a few hours running = John Waters' smell-o-vision)


I ended up taking pictures of equipment post-clean I approved of  (with flash flight mirror and camera) and using them as the visual standard. And i took pictures of what wasn't clean very well & hard spots to see/reach.


For ATP and allergens, I'm a fan of running validation.  Usually if the bosses see a clean out isn't working they;ll give you more time/$$ for tools or chemicals you need. 

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 12:58 AM

Clean = free from dust

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