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Validation of cleaning

Thorough cleaning is a crucial prerequisite to sound hygienic conditions in any food manufacturing environment. Cleaning protocols must be validated in order to provide assurance that they do, in fact, serve their purpose: to clean the surfaces to a level that avoids the possibility of cross-contamination. In relation to food production, the main cross-contamination hazards are physical, chemical, biological and allergenic. Depending on the products intended consumers, the process and procedure for the control of the hazards may vary significantly.


According to the BRC Food Safety Global View 2015, analysis of audit data, sampled from 17,113 sites in 2014, has enabled identification of vital trends relating to food safety and hygiene in food production worldwide. The most frequent non-conformities that emerged globally were concerned with Documenting Cleaning Procedures (Clause 4.11.1), with 18.3% prevalence across all sites, followed by Door Maintenance (Clause 4.4.9) and Chemical Control Processes (Clause 4.9.1.1). In particular, Housekeeping and Hygiene (Section 4.11) presented the most problematic set of criteria, suggesting that all categories' sites needed to improve the maintenance of their housekeeping and cleaning systems.


This paper discusses the development of a cleaning regime, deciding the level of clean required by assessment of the product risk and process, how to validate the cleaning regime, and sampling techniques used to validate the efficiency of a cleaning procedure.


National and international legislation requires the food industry to ensure that food placed on the market is safe. EC/178/2002 states that the products should not be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption, whilst the Machinery Directive (EC Directive 2006/42) requires that equipment manufacturers should provide cleanable equipment. When looking at external accreditations, section 5.3 in the BRC Global Food Standard version 7 specifically relates to management of allergens. In particular section 5.3.8 states that "Equipment or area cleaning procedures shall be designed to remove or reduce to acceptable levels any potential cross-contamination by allergens. The cleaning methods shall be validated to ensure they are effective and the effectiveness of the procedure routinely verified. Cleaning equipment used to clean allergenic materials shall either be identifiable and specific for allergen use, single use, or effectively cleaned after use."


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