Validation of Cleaning Programs


  1. Introduction
  2. Steps to Validate a Cleaning Procedure
  3. Cleaning Validation Excel Tool

1. Introduction

Validation, as a food safety management requirement, has been around since the inception of HACCP and specifically for Critical Control Points (CCPs). In recent years, however, new versions of global food safety standards and legislation have introduced the requirement to validate non-critical controls such as PRPs, oPRPs and general preventive controls. In this white paper we will focus on validation of cleaning, which is a widely used and important preventive measure. We will address the importance of cleaning, why validation is essential and best practice methods of validation typically employed.

Food safety management systems often place HACCP at the centre of control for specific food hazards. This makes sense, particularly where a specific hazard linked to adverse impacts for the consumer can be identified. However, no matter how robust the HACCP system may be, it requires a sound program of basic controls that addresses general hazards, many of which may not be identified. These programs are described as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Pre-requisite Programs (PRP) and Preventive Controls (PC) to name a few. Regardless of the term used, they all represent the basic requirement for good practice to provide a safe environment for the manufacturing of food. Among the most important of these is the need to clean and sanitize your plant and equipment sufficiently to produce food free of physical, allergenic, chemical and microbiological hazards. In addition, it is important to understand the reasons why a food plant must be cleaned. These include:

  • To reduce the risks from food hazards – food poisoning and foreign body contamination
  • To comply with local and international legislation
  • To meet specific customer requirements, e.g., Tesco
  • To meet the requirements of global food safety standards (GFSI)
  • To maintain positive audit and inspection outcomes
  • To allow maximum plant productivity
  • To present a hygienic visual image
  • To promote safe working conditions for staff, contractors and visitors
  • To maintain product shelf-life
  • To avoid pest infestation

At the most basic level, the visual appearance of a food factory is an indication of the standards and culture of the company. It has a strong impact on the perception of an auditor or visitor and can influence the overall outcome of audits and securing new business. For this reason, the visual cleanliness of a company is as important as detailed HACCP plans.

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