Writing Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs)

Consistently using correct cleaning and sanitizing procedures in dairy and food processing plants is the foundation to producing high quality, safe food.
Writing Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) - Articles

Consistently using correct cleaning and sanitizing procedures in dairy and food processing plants is the foundation to producing high quality, safe food. Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) are detailed procedures specifying what to clean, how to clean, how often to clean, and the records used for monitoring.

What is a Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP)?

A Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP) is a written document of procedures or programs used to maintain equipment and the environment in a sanitary condition for food processing. It is a step-by-step description of cleaning and sanitizing procedures and specifies

  • what is to be cleaned
  • how it is to be cleaned,
  • how often it is to be cleaned, and
  • what records are used to monitor the procedures.

An SSOP is a fundamental part of a Food Safety Plan. It may be a stand-along procedure or may be a Prerequisite Program (PP). It shall be updated whenever there is a change in processes or chemicals used. It should be reviewed annually with the Food Safety Plan. An SSOP may written for

  • a piece of equipment,
  • several pieces of equipment in a process,
  • an environmental area,
  • as a Master Sanitation Plan for the whole facility.

Tips for Writing SSOPs

Use Clear Language

SSOPs should be written in a concise, easy-to-read format. Simple, direct terms are the most effective. Ambiguous directions, or long instructions can be difficult to follow correctly.

If employees are not native English speakers, consider having a alternative version available in their first language. When training non-native English speaking employees, it is critical that they understand the details of the procedures and the proper use of chemicals before beginning their job. This will ensure the utmost sanitary condition for processing, reduce food safety risk, and minimize employee accidents.

Completely Describe the Steps

An SSOP is a step-by-step document.

  • use a numbered sequence for the steps

Describe the steps completely.

  • identify specific cleaning chemicals (type, brand, name, concentration)
  • include the temperature and time conditions needed to achieve proper cleaning

Add notes for clarification as needed.

  • notes are particularly useful when identifying specific hazards, such as making sure the correct personal protection equipment (PPE) is put on prior to handling caustic chemicals.

An SSOP should be considered a training document.

  • when a new or relief employee is asked to do this task, can they follow this SSOP and get the job done correctly and timely?

Identify the Monitoring Records

Monitoring records are an integral part of a Food Safety Plan. Monitoring records are logs, charts, and other documents that prove that cleaning and sanitizing occurred. Monitoring records should be filled in the date and signature or initials of the person completing the task.

If it wasn't documented, it wasn't done!

Examples of monitoring records include

  • chemical concentration logs,
  • cleaning schedule logs,
  • pasteurization chart with the CIP cycle, and
  • periodic checklists on the Master Sanitation Plan.

Elements of an SSOP

Here is a checklist of elements that should be included in an SSOP:

  • Company Name
  • Date (most recent update or effective date)
  • Version ID
  • SSOP Number (optional). Some companies assign numbers to their SSOPs, they may combine the SSOP number and version. Example: SSOP #3, version 5 may be SSOP: 3.05
  • Title (the name of the procedure or program)
  • Scope or Introduction (what is covered)
  • Frequency (how often this should be done)
  • Procedures: Step-by-step instructions. Use a logical, sequential order/ Add notes as needed for clarification. Specify: chemicals (type, brand name), chemical concentration, time, temperature. Break into sections for multiple tasks.
  • Recordkeeping. Identify which forms or logs are used. Example: chemical concentration logs.
  • Person responsible for the SSOP content and updates. Include signature and date lines.
  • Page numbers

Example SSOP

Kay's Kreamery
SSOP: 3.05

State College, PA
Date Updated: April 15, 2015

Cheese Process Equipment Cleaning and Sanitizing

Scope

Cheese process equipment includes the pasteurizer, cheese vat, cheese press, tables, and utensils used during the manufacture of cheese.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Schedule

Processing equipment is sanitized immediately prior to use and cleaned at the end of each processing day.

Manual Sanitizing

  1. Fill 5 gallon bucket with room temperature water.
  2. Add 1 packet of ABC powdered sanitizer (HIJ Company) to the bucket. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Sanitize equipment using a clean brush, making sure to sanitize all surfaces and parts.

Manual Cleaning (in a sink)

  1. Dismantle equipment to be cleaned and rinse parts with warm water.
  2. Make cleaning and sanitizing solutions according to manufacturers instructions. Note: wear appropriate personal protection equipment (gloves, eye protection)
  3. Wash parts using a clean brush, making sure to wash all surfaces and parts.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to remove cleaner residues.
  5. Rinse parts with sanitizer solution.
  6. Visually inspect parts for damage and residual cleaner.

CIP Cleaning of the HTST Pasteurizer

1. Continue the flush rinse after product processing until the clean water comes out of the product lines (at least 20 min). Maintain water level in balance tank.

2. Prepare the HTST and Homogenizer for CIP.

  1. Turn the Temperature Set Point down to allow the flow to divert. Shut off the booster pump, homogenizer, and hot water system. Turn off the chilled water.
  2. Turn the switch on the Back Panel (CIP box) from Product to CIP.
  3. Reconnect the product recirculation line. Remove end caps and reconnect the bypass line on the homogenizer.
  4. Turn the Product Flow to CIP on the Control Panel.

3. Turn HTST system back on and stabilize conditions.

  1. Check water level in balance tank, and add water if needed.
  2. Release the backpressure using the Back Pressure Regulating Valve.
  3. Adjust the Temperature Set Point to 180°F.
  4. Turn on the Homogenizer and Booster Pump to High Speed. Turn on the Hot Water System at the control panel.

4. Add Caustic and circulate for 20 min.

  1. Add city water to the balance tank to a level just below the side port.
  2. Add 4.5 lbs of caustic (EFG caustic cleaner by HIJ Company) to balance tank
  3. Take a sample of the caustic solution from the balance tank and check concentration using the test kit for Caustic Wash. Record concentration of caustic wash on the Sanitation Test Log.
  4. Caustic solution should be 1 - 1.5%; adjust concentration and retest as needed.
  5. Switch between Forward and Diverted Flow a few times to clean the entire system.

5. Drain caustic solution.

  1. Turn Flow Valve to Drain.
  2. When balance tank is almost empty add clean water to balance tank for rinse.

6. Rinse with clean water 20 - 30 min.

7. Add acid and circulate for 20 min.

  1. Turn flow valve back to Forward Flow F/F.
  2. Add city water to the balance tank to a level just below the side port.
  3. Add 1.5 lbs of acid (KLM acid cleaner by HIJ Company) to balance tank.
  4. Take a sample of the acid solution from the balance tank and check concentration using the test kit for Acid Wash. Record concentration of acid wash on the Sanitation Test Log.
  5. Acid solution should be 8,000 - 10,000 ppm; adjust concentration and as needed.
  6. Switch between forward and diverted flow a few times to clean the entire system.

8. Rinse with clean water 30 - 45 min.

  1. Turn flow valve to Drain.
  2. When balance tank is almost empty, add clean water to balance tank for rinse. Add water as needed to complete rinse cycle.
  3. After rinse is complete, drain tank until only a small amount remains in the bottom.

9. Cool System.

  1. Turn off Steam Valve at control panel and allow the temp to drop below 140°F.
  2. Adjust the Temperature Set Point to 120°F.
  3. Wait until the temperature of the system is < 120°F before turning off the system.

Recordkeeping

  • The results from testing the concentrations of cleaning solutions are recorded on the Sanitation Test Log immediately following the test.
  • CIP cleaning of the pasteurizer is recorded on the Pasteurization Chart at the end of the production run each day.
  • Manual cleaning of the cheese vat, tables and equipment is recorded on the Daily Cleaning Log.

The following individual is responsible for implementation of this SSOP:

Name: Jane Doe
Title: Plant Manager
Date: 4/15/15

Authors

Dairy Food Processing & Quality Dairy Food Safety Sensory Analysis of Dairy Products Dairy Foods Extension Artisanal Cheese

More by Kerry E. Kaylegian, Ph.D.