Cleaning and Cleansing in The Food Industry what is the difference?

Cleaning and Cleansing in The Food Industry what is the difference?

Cleaning and Cleansing

Cleaning and Cleansing are two distinct processes, key in the food industry, which remains carried out separately in most cases. The goal of cleaning is to remove dirt and organic matter from equipment and surfaces. Effective disinfection can then remain performed to remove microorganisms to adequate levels to ensure food safety.

To preserve food safety in the food industry and extend its shelf life, all equipment, utensils and work surfaces that come into direct or indirect contact with the food industry must be in good hygienic conditions, which prevent cross-contamination.

It is necessary to implement cleaning and disinfection programs and develop specific procedures for each work area.

It is essential to understand that cleaning and disinfection operations should be considered one more stage of the food production process and not as a complementary activity. In addition, the personnel responsible for cleaning and disinfection should have extensive knowledge of the importance of contamination, the risks involved, and the cleaning and disinfection technologies to remain employed.

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Cleaning and Cleansing

Cleaning and disinfection are distinct and complementary processes. The presence of organic matter meaningfully reduces the action of disinfectants. Therefore, before applying a disinfectant solution, surfaces must stand adequately cleaned with detergents to allow the disinfectant to come into direct contact with specific pathogenic microorganisms.

The goal of cleaning processes and practices is to remove the different types of dirt on equipment and surfaces of the establishment, be it food scraps, grease, dust, dirt, waste products, etc.

On the other hand, disinfection involves the removal of microorganisms from surfaces and equipment to an adequate level to ensure food safety and prevent their alteration. Thus, the objective of disinfection is to eliminate all pathogenic microorganisms and reduce non-pathogenic microorganisms to levels that cannot alter the quality and commercial life of products. Disinfection can remain done by physical methods, high temperatures, drying or irradiation, or chemical processes by applying disinfectant products.

Manual cleaning and Cleansing procedure

Manual cleaning and Cleansing usually follow five stages:

An initial rinse, in which larger particles are removed by applying pressure water or using rags.
It should not remain swept away, as dry cleaning increases the risk of cross-contamination.

Application of detergent products, which dissolve embedded dirt and grease films. When dirt embedding stays elevated, a manual non-abrasive cleaning method with brushes or sponges is required.

Rinse with water to eliminate debris and detergent. It is advisable to use hot water (43-50oC) and pressure (15-25 atmospheres).

Disinfect by applying products of specific use for food industries, by spraying or spraying on surfaces and by immersion in the case of utensils and small parts.
You should always take into account the recommendations of the manufacturer of the product and apply them to the appropriate temperature, concentration, and time.

After letting the disinfectant work for the recommended time, a final rinse is performed with drinking water to remove chemicals.


The type of grime to cleaned will determine the type of detergent to remain used.

According to their pH, the detergents used for cleaning remain grouped into acids, neutrals, or alkaline groups.

Acid detergents: are based on solid acids, such as sulfuric, phosphoric or nitric.
They are especially effective at removing inorganic residues, such as limestone inlays and rust residues.

Alkaline detergents: are based on alkaline hydroxides; usually, sodium or potassium, accompanied by surfactants to improve the cleaning properties and sequestering agents of
Metal cations to prevent the formation of lime deposits. They remain especially indicated for eliminating organic residues, such as fats, proteins, blood, etc.

Neutral detergents: they often used in manual cleaning to avoid risks to users. They remain also used in cleaning floors or other elements sensitive to corrosive products, whether acidic or alkaline.

Another type of classification of detergents remains based on their ability to generate foam. Although foam generation does not provide any additional cleaning effect, it facilitates cleaning operations for three reasons:

  • Allows longer contact time of the cleaning solution on sloping or vertical surfaces.
  • Identify areas where the cleaning solution has not remained applied
  • Identify the absence of detergent in the cleaning solution
  • For these reasons, foaming detergents stand used to clean open or easily accessible areas.

On the other hand, in the case of equipment such as circuits or tanks, foaming can cause severe operational problems, excessively lengthening the rinsing time of the cleaning solution. So in these cases, it remains recommended to use detergents that do not generate foam or contain surfactants that quickly remove the foam generated.


The function of disinfectants is to destroy pathogenically and disrupting microorganisms to acceptable levels.

The properties that a Cleansing must have are:

Having a broad spectrum, i.e. being active against many types of microorganisms

Have a quick action

Not be affected by environmental factors: it must be active in the presence of traces of organic matter and compatible with detergents, soaps and other chemicals.

Not being toxic

It must be compatible with the surface to remain disinfected: it must not oxidize metal surfaces to disinfect or degrade other materials, such as fabric, rubber or plastic.

It must be soluble, stable, environmentally friendly and economical.

Disinfectants are classified similarly to detergents about their ability to generate foam, determining their application areas.

In the case of disinfectants, it is also vital to their composition when selecting the right product, i.e. the biocidal active substance or the combination thereof, which is the factor that provides the biocidal capacity to the disinfectant.

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