I am curious to hear what others standards/limits are for equipment cleanliness. We recently lost our 2 man cleaning crew and have brought in some new people that are still figuring everything out. We make a low risk food that is practically bulletproof due to pH and thermal processing. Every morning we do ATP swabs, and Im frequently getting positive results. Very low, but positive results. Actual lab results for TPC have pretty much always been <10, so it hasnt been too much of a concern for me.
We make a cornmeal based product and it is everything but impossible to get every trace of it off the equipment. Due to the process, the product bakes on to the walls of our steam-jacket kettles so bad that only high levels of caustic soda or hours of scrubbing will get it off. During pre-ops Ive been okay with a few grains of corn here and there as long as its reasonable, but I am fairly strict when it comes to the food contact surfaces.
Ever since we had to replace the cleaning crew, Ive been finding residual food on contact surfaces where the product burns on the worst. Im talking burned on so bad that even trying to chisel it off does practically nothing. It took a good 20 minutes to get an area the size of a bowl to the size of quarter. We have lost a LOT of time getting production started in the AM while we try to get the equipment cleaned.
I need to write a standard to release the line to be sanitized. As Im trying to write something up, I figured see if anyone here has any sort of spec/standard. What is a reasonable spec for direct contact surfaces of a low-risk product line that is inspected then sanitized immediately prior to commencing production. Also, what are your ATP limits for SS surfaces?
Im thinking something like no more than XX loose corn grains within kettles and no single objects burnt on to the equipment larger than 5mm in diameter. No more than 1 such object between ~3-5mm in each kettle. Max 2 objects up to ~3mm.
Thank you in advance for any feedback!