Introduction to CIP and sanitation
Proper cleaning is essential for the production of high quality food products especially those with extended shelf life.
Cleaning and sanitization of process plants is one of the most critical aspects of food processing. Cleaning in place (CIP) is a very common practice nowadays, especially in dairy, beverage, brewery and processed food plants. It replaces the manual strip down, rebuilding and cleaning of process systems. The main business advantage is a considerable reduction in the time the plant is idle and running at full capacity, and the ability to use harsh cleaning chemicals in a closed environment which otherwise couldn’t have been safely carried out with manual cleaning. Proper cleaning is essential for the production of high quality food products especially those with extended shelf life.
CIP is the integrated process and hygienic blueprint of the complete process, and not just a part of the CIP bulk unit. The CIP system consists of containers for preparation and storage of cleaning chemicals, valves and pumps for the flow of CIP chemicals through the whole installation, and instruments to oversee the cleaning process and containers to recover the chemicals.
Even though CIP systems are fully automated, the process itself is a mix of manual actions and automatic sequencing. This is especially valid for operations within a process plant where different types of chemicals are used in different concentrations. One good example is the routine use of NaOH (sodium hydroxide) and nitric acid solutions in the majority of centralized CIP operations – it would cause considerable damage to a membrane filtration system with polymeric membranes, if exposed.
CIP solutions can be used once and drained, but this becomes expensive when taking into account the cost of cleaning chemicals, water and discharge. It is not environmentally friendly and can only be justified in order to avoid cross contamination. Normally, cleaning solutions are recovered in a tank to be re-used later on, only after the original concentration of the cleaning chemicals has been restored. These type of systems need to be checked regularly for accumulation of residual soils and the refill of cleaning chemicals. In certain situations, you can extend the life of a system by using membrane filtration technology to filter soil from cleaning solutions.