While food safety is the obvious goal of every food safety program, protecting your company’s assets is another essential requirement. The strength of your brand relies on your company’s ability to produce a quality product—and you are on the front line.

Food safety professionals have a unique approach to their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program; however, one thing is constant: If you don’t start with a clean plant, eventually, your food safety program will fail. To establish a good basis for quality food processing, a complete sanitation program—consisting of both cleaning and monitoring—must be established and regularly reviewed to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.

How to Clean
A primary tool in the effective cleaning of a food plant is the correct concentration of cleaners and sanitizers. While titration kits and chemical strips provide indications of chemical concentration, neither is ideal. Titration kits are very dependent upon the user’s training and can be time-consuming to use. Conversely, chemical strips are easy to use and provide quick results, but are also relatively inaccurate and have intrinsic variability of 25 to 33 percent. Additionally, neither provides a strong audit trail requiring users to manually record time and concentration data.

The LIGHTNING MVP from BioControl Systems, Inc. offers a more advanced method for determining chemical concentrations, combining the accuracy of titration kits with the ease of use of chemical strips. Best known for its accuracy in ATP detection, it also offers a reusable probe that accurately measures and automatically records the concentration of cleaners and sanitizers. This unique method, based on the principle of conductivity, is a fast and reliable way to measure chemical concentrations to ensure your cleaners and sanitizers are always mixed correctly. Users can enter the target concentrations of their chemical solutions into the MVP software, which will provide a clear pass or fail determination when these solutions are tested throughout the manufacturing process. Finally, the concentration values are saved with a time-and-date stamp in the system’s software and can easily be downloaded into reports, ensuring a strong audit trail.

Did It Work?
Once cleaning has been completed, monitoring to ensure it was accomplished properly is the next step since everyone knows that, “What gets monitored gets done.” Changes in cleaning staff, raw materials, chemicals, seasonality and many more variables impose challenges on any sanitation program and timely and reliable feedback on its effectiveness is vital.

ATP monitoring using the LIGHTNING MVP provides that immediate feedback, allowing timely intervention if the daily cleaning was ineffective. The system measures the amount of ATP in organic residue on equipment and other surfaces after cleaning. The higher the readings, the greater the amount of organic residue on the surfaces that can lead to growth of microorganisms. By monitoring in this fashion, requirements of vendors, government auditors and your HACCP plan are met, protecting your company’s brand.

Reporting and periodic review of a sanitation program is one of the most overlooked yet vital aspects of any monitoring system. While monitoring allows on the spot decisions without looking at trends, a large part of the value of any monitoring system is lost. Trend reporting provides insight into effectiveness of chemicals, impact of wear and tear on equipment and trouble spots that require a closer look.

If monitoring multiple plants, BioControl’s system provides a unique service. Results from multiple plants can be submitted to the company where database experts compile a confidential report, compare plants and provide benchmarks against others in the food processing industry. Without requiring busy quality assurance departments to do complex computer work, multi-plant sanitation programs can be both compared and contrasted, allowing for optimization of the program and a safe, high-quality product.

When it comes to protecting your company’s assets, the effective implementation and monitoring of a HACCP plan is critical. Behind every successful HACCP program are effective tracking and monitoring systems that ensure quality control criteria are consistently being met. Tools, like the LIGHTNING MVP provide accurate and convenient monitoring and assurance that your company’s brand is protected.