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Chemical Usage in Dairy and Beverage Processes in the Americas

554 views - 2021-07-30 11:05:17




The primary scope of chemical usage in the dairy and beverage manufacturing industry relates to the cleaning and sanitising of processing and filling equipment. Some equipment may use specific chemistries as part of their built-in processes, such as filling machines that utilise hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid (PAA) to sanitise.



Types of Dairy and Beverage Processing and Packaging


There are three types of processing methods most-commonly used in the United States, aseptic, ultra-pasteurisation, and high temperature short time pasteurisation. These methods can share both cleaning methodologies and cleaning/sanitising chemicals: caustic, acid, and sanitiser.

  • Caustic - The primary detergent in most cleaning cycles, caustic, softens fats making them easier to remove. Known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide or NaOH; the alkali used in caustic washes has a very high pH. This wash is typically performed twice, the second wash frequently recovered and re-used.
  • Acid - Many dairy manufacturers also regularly use acid to remove milk scale and calcified mineral stains that can accumulate in and on stainless steel tanks, piping, and equipment. This is similar to using citric acid to remove limescale on home appliances.
  • Sanitiser - Kills pathogens and other microorganisms without adversely affecting equipment, product, packaging or the health of consumers. The chemical and the applied concentration must be accepted by the local or national regulating agency, such as the FDA in the United States.


Traditionally, chlorine-based sanitisers have been used, but in recent years, sanitation managers have been turning to alternative chemicals such as Peracetic Acid (PAA). PAA solutions are equilibrium combinations of peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid. PAA is an organic chemical compound with higher efficacy, greater residual lifetime and fewer disinfection byproducts compared to traditional halogen-based sanitisers like chlorine. It has grown in use in numerous applications including healthcare, food packing and production, and wastewater treatment.


One downside of moving to PAA is that until recently, there were few digital test methods for accurately controlling usage and concentration compared to chlorine. As PAA chemical costs are higher than chlorine per gallon, lack of precise control amplified operating expenditure even further.



Cleaning Workflow and Chemical Usage


Cleaning of dairy and beverage processing or filling systems generally adheres to five common steps in a process called Clean-In-Place (CIP). CIP methodology was born in the 1950s and first regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1978 with pharmaceutical manufacturing, before being adopted by food and beverage manufacturing. Modern CIP processes are now highly automated for increased efficacy, accuracy and safety.


As defined in the FDA’s Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), CIP is:

“the removal of soil from product contact surfaces in their process position by circulating, spraying, or flowing chemical solutions and water rinses onto and over the surfaces to be cleaned. Components of the equipment, which are not designed to be CIP, are removed from the equipment to be Cleaned-Out-Of-Place (COP) or manually cleaned.”

Equipment that must undergo CIP includes the vessels (i.e., tanks and silos), processing lines, and filling equipment. In addition to plant equipment, dairy tankers are cleaned in place after unloading milk from tankers and prior to loading, such as in the case of cream load-out into tankers. 


The steps for CIP include:


  1. Pre-Rinse - Wets the interior of the equipment and removes product residue.
  2. Caustic Wash - The true ‘cleaning’ portion of the entire process, removing fats, grease and other soiling.
  3. Intermediate Rinse - Fresh water that flushes-out residual detergent from the caustic wash cycle.
  4. Acid Wash - An optional step used primarily in dairy processing to remove mineral deposits.
  5. Final Rinse - Rinse the system, usually with water, to remove residual caustic (or acid, as applicable). 
  6. Sanitising Rinse - The final cycle of the CIP process to kill or prevent microbial contamination



Other Chemicals Used in Dairy and Beverage Processes


 In addition to the chemicals used for CIP, dairy and beverage manufacturers also frequently use the following: 


Ngoài các hóa chất được sử dụng cho CIP, các nhà sản xuất sữa và đồ uống cũng thường xuyên sử dụng những chất sau:

  • Ammonia - Ammonia-based refrigeration is increasingly common in commercial food processing, offering economic and environmental advantages over older chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigeration systems. Ammonia gas is lighter than air and, if released, can form a cloud that can affect individuals downwind.

  • COP chemicals - Cleaning out of place using chemicals also occurs for parts that are removed from equipment, and also environmental cleaning around equipment.
  • Glycol - used in addition to ammonia for product cooling.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) - Filling machines frequently use H2O2 to sanitise the interior of containers prior to filling, especially in plastic coated paper packaging.

  • Phosphoric acid, nitric acid, and citric acid - Chemicals broadly used to passivate stainless steel in efforts to increase corrosion resistance.
  • Quality testing - Additional chemicals are used by quality teams when performing disinfectant residual testing, microbiological testing, allergen testing, and more. 


Traditional sanitiser testing methods are complex manual titrimetric techniques, subject to potential human error and requiring paper-based records to be kept. Where inline probes are used to monitor and control sanitiser concentrations, their calibration has often been set based off the same manual test methods, limiting their traceability.



Recently developed sanitiser testing methods, like Palintest’s Kemio™, eliminate method complexity and subjectivity, providing objective digital results that are securely logged on-device.



Single use Kemio sensors provide results in 60 seconds, compared to up to 10 minutes for full titrations, and by overcoming technique dependency, provide enhanced traceability for both the offline test and the inline probe calibration. 



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