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Water pressure used in cleaning & sanitation

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Posted 21 April 2015 - 07:50 PM

Hi guys,


Several random questions about water safety in food plant need your help, doesn't matter which standard you are pursuing, I believe this is a common question.


Just assume a company do fresh & frozen, dry & wet etc all different product  and all different type of cleaning methods have been used.


First question is can we use high pressure water guns in food plant as primary rinse?


Second question is what kind of water pressure do we need for general cleaning in food plant? (Similar question is if we use air gun to spot clean equipment that need dry cleaning, what kind of psi do we need for that?)


Last question is also somewhat related, what kind of hose nozzle do we need to get for this purpose? A lot of supplier claim their nozzle is HACCP certified etc which is bullcrap, but I need some sort of guidance. (Okay I confess, our employee have a bad habit to get rid of nozzle when using water hoses, I got expensive ones which cost 200+ each they complain those are way too heavy, we get them lighter ones they compliant not enough water pressure, we weld the nozzle to the hose they cut them off along with the hose... unbelievable, so I'm just gonna enforce it after pick the right one everybody recommend, who don't comply could go work for the maintenance shop instead.)





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#2 xylough


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Posted 21 April 2015 - 10:22 PM



I would only relate the opinion I have formed through my experience with the questions you pose. Early in my career I was working in a dairy plant where the methods of cleaning had been formed by a horrible incident the upper management had experienced a few years earlier at at a sister plant. Ice cream had become contaminated with Listeria m., and some people had died. The ramifications of the incident included restructuring of that organization and a transformation of the food safety culture. One of the policies that came out of the investigation was to never permit sanitation with high pressure. Instead they adopted a system of low-pressure foaming, scrubbing and low-pressure rinse. The reason is that high pressure serves to aerosolize filth from areas and equipment not yet clean onto areas and equipment that are ostensibly clean and sanitized. High pressure methods also pump a lot of humidity into the air resulting in consequent condensation.


More recently I came into a meat processing facility that had exclusively used high pressure methods and among first issues I observed were that every day some piece of equipment would fail. Investigations pointed to the fact that the seals, electronics, switches and other vulnerable parts had prematurely failed due to the high pressure washing, allowing detergent and water to get into the equipment. Later when I went to write an energy control program I was reading all the manuals for this European food processing equipment and saw that in each manual high pressure was strongly contraindicated. A few weeks later we discovered that all the alkaline detergent used under high pressure had destroyed the fins and coils of all four refrigeration evaporators  that hung from the ceiling. The high pressure also destroyed the caulking and the finish in the special food processing room panels that covered the walls. Once I pointed out all the destructive repercussions of the high pressure and had a few equipment representatives back me up on the causality, the president gladly allowed me to make the switch to low pressure methods.


I have performed hundreds of audits in almost every type of food manufacturing facility and I can honestly say that IMO there is no food processing situation where high pressure is the lower risk choice for food safety or for proper care of plant, equipment and property.

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#3 Charles.C


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Posted 22 April 2015 - 06:30 AM



I don't disagree with the previous post but maybe situations impose their own demands. It surely also relates to the products / process and the actual pressures/ equipment /usage involved.


I have had experience (not meat/USA) with both "low" and "high" pressure cleaning units but only in "wet" system. From a purely functional POV, the basic effectiveness  depended on the “target” .


Caked sediment on floors and frying lines almost laughed at a 30psig unit although  it would probably have been fine for cleaning the family car. Additionally after 2 month of 4hrs/day usage, it broke down due major “internal” problems.  In truth, this toy was just overloaded. Written off to “Experience”.


The replacement, an “industrial size", 100psig "blaster" swept the initial user off her feet, almost literally ! But the difference in capability was simply unbelievable, deposits were mostly wiped away. The Listeria aspect was also immediately apparent  which necessitated some SOP restraint/preliminary training/preparation for the clean-up team.


After another month, the unit was quietly borrowed by Engineering at the weekend for “maintenance”. Reappeared on Monday looking somewhat exhausted/dejected. A sign was then added to the frame - “Use in Production Area Only”. Subsequent performance IMO exemplary.


I agree with the OP that nozzles can be a headache. After lengthy investigations into design/usage which were generally inconclusive I ended up classifying occasional repairs / replacements as an unavoidable running cost due to continuous heavy duty. Not my problem.

Kind Regards,



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#4 mgourley


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Posted 22 April 2015 - 08:48 AM

In my experience, it all depends on the process, products and the situation.

I have worked in bakeries all of my career. Risk for blowing pathogens around are low.

Pressure washers are fine for flat surfaces and areas where electrical panels/equipment are non-existent or well protected.

That being said, I discourage their use. People using them tend to just wave them around and think they are actually "cleaning" things.

The vast majority of wet cleaning in bakeries is more efficiently and effectively done with a standard 3/4 inch water hose with your nozzle of choice and that good old standby, elbow grease.


As far as compressed air goes, I try to regulate it to 30 psi and only use it where necessary. Once again, certain employees tend to just blast away with an air gun, assuming they are doing a bang up job.

In bakeries at least, all that does is end up blowing flour into the overheads and surrounding areas.



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#5 Jim E.

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 10:06 PM

We use a variety of water cleaning equipment.  Starting with a standard 3/4" hose for rinsing loose material.  For heavier build up we have a 300 psi system through out the facility for cleaning and also used to apply cleaning chemicals.  Then when it comes to the really heavy build up such as scale we have a "hotsy" which puts out 3000 psi.  Our faciity is 95% stainless steel so we do not worry about material coming apart.  Then in our packaging area with all the callibrated equipment we use air to knock down the loose material and hand washing follows.  What is best depends on where you work.

#6 Scampi



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Posted 15 May 2015 - 05:39 PM

we are a poultry processor and use both for cleaning and sanitizing depending on the step and piece of equipment being used. Another important step is using the CORRECT cleaning and sanitizing chemicals. That means they need to be based on your water chemistry, materials you are cleaning, amount of time you have for sanitation etc. Not all chemicals need or want high pressure. 


To specifically answer your first question, I don't see an issue using high pressure as your primary rinse in a wet area as the top down, bottom up, top down process should remove any materials/contaminates that have been blown off equipment in the first step.  Speaking directly with experience, out first step is high pressure rinse, and we still manage to remove about 90-95% of feathers.


As for the nozzles, whether or not they comply with your HACCP plan would directly related to how they are handled when not in use???


There are a lot of factors to be considered prior to formulating a process that works best for your facility. What does your chemical supplier suggest? Have the chemicals been matched to your water chemistry?  We used a mild acid wash on the shackles when the fats and calcium become "baked on" from the scald tank followed by the usual process

Because we always have is never an appropriate response!

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