Clean in place (CIP) is a specific method of cleaning used in the food industry that allows for the sanitation of important equipment without full disassembly. This procedure is vital to ensure the equipment involved in the production, preparation and storage of food is clean. It’s also essential for enhancing efficiency by preventing the need to disassemble equipment.
In most contexts and settings, the CIP process involves the following steps:
Preliminary rinse: The first step is a preliminary rinse to ensure food particles and any other debris are removed from the equipment.
Preparation of the cleaning solution: Next, the cleaning solution is prepared based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, an appropriate concentration of water and cleaning solution is mixed and applied.
Circulation of the cleaning solution: The cleaning solution is then circulated through the equipment via spray balls and pumps until all surfaces are cleaned and sterilized. The solution should remain in circulation and contact with the equipment for 15 to 60 minutes. Doing so ensures sufficient time has passed to break down all debris or contaminants.
Additional rinse: All the equipment is then rinsed to remove any remaining materials left on the surfaces. This step can be repeated multiple times. A final rinse may only use clean water for maximum sterilization and assurance the equipment is fully free of contaminants.
Sanitation: In some businesses with the highest levels of sterilization standards, a sanitation solution may be circulated through all equipment once again. Subsequent rinsing then can be implemented to ensure all pathogens and bacteria have been removed.
Evaluation: It is important to evaluate the work that has been done and to verify that the equipment has been sanitized through a testing method, such as the adenosine triphosphate test. For this test, the presence of this energy molecule on the surface of your equipment is an indication that not all contaminants or pathogens have been completely removed. Adenosine triphosphate is present in all living things, so its presence on your equipment would be an indication that there is some sort of microbial growth, such as bacteria. During this phase you will likely record any readings and note all cleanings that have been implemented to comply with your industry’s standards and regulations.
Importance of CIP in the Food Industry
The CIP process is important in the food industry for many reasons that are both intuitive and, for some, not so immediately apparent. This process is essential for ensuring there is consistency across the food industry in terms of cleanliness and sanitation so customers can feel confident they are protected from the spread of food-borne illnesses.
Some pathogens found in foods can cause serious illness and even death. Thus, it is vital that restaurants are clean and sterile environments so your customers can be confident they are safe in your business.
Properly cleaned and sanitized equipment also can prevent cross-contamination, the transfer of bacteria from one object or person to another. This issue commonly occurs when raw meat is stored with cooked meat, but it also can occur when equipment is not properly sterilized and cleaned regularly.
CIP can ultimately reduce costs associated with labor because it is more time-efficient than manual cleaning methods and it prevents the need to completely disassemble your restaurant equipment. Additionally, CIP ensures your kitchen meets industry standards and regulations, which can help you avoid the legal costs that may result if your equipment does not comply.
Applications of CIP
The standards and regulations that you must meet in regard to cleanliness and sterilization will depend on your business type. For example, businesses that process and manufacture food have different standards than those that prepare and serve food to customers.
To ensure that your business complies and that you provide your customers with the safest and cleanest environment possible, consider using service providers like Alsco. We offer robust food industry services, such as linen and uniform rentals, restroom supply services and floorcare.
With our help, your business can always look good — from the uniforms your employees wear to the overall condition of your restrooms. Call today to learn more about how we can simplify the management of your facility.
10 – Cleaning in Place (CIP) in Food Processing. (2014). Hygiene in Food Processing, Second Edition.
Cleaning in Place (CIP) in Food Processing. (September 2013). Cleaning-in-Place: Dairy, Food and Beverage Operations, Third Edition.
Prevent Cross-Contamination. (April 2007). Minnesota Department of Health.
Make CIP an Integral Part of Your Process. (April 2023). Food Engineering.