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Influence of Surface Finish on the Cleanability of Stainless Steel

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Stainless steel for fabricating food processing equipment is available with various surface finishes. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of surface finish on cleanability. Nine samples of stainless steel, type 304, from various manufacturers including no finish (hot rolled and pickled), #4 finish, 2B mechanical polished, and electropolished were tested. Cleanability was assessed by using coupon samples soiled with either cultured milk inoculated with spores of Bacillus stearothermophilus or by growth of a Pseudomonas sp. biofilm. Samples were cleaned by immersion in a turbulent bath of 1.28% sodium hydroxide at 66°C for 3 min followed by a sterile water rinse, neutralizing in 0.1% phosphoric acid for 30 s, rinsing in phosphate buffer, sanitizing in 100 ppm hypochlorite, neutralizing in sodium thiosulfate, and drying. To determine residual milk soil, coupon samples were covered with PM indicator agar and incubated for 25 h at 58°C. Other coupons were subjected to an additional 10 soiling or cleaning cycles, and the residual protein was measured by using epifluorescent microscopy and image analysis. Results indicate that the spore count was more precise for measuring initial cleanability of the finished samples, and the protein residue determination was useful for determining the effect of repeated cleaning. Data on the removal of milk soil suggest that stainless steel should be purchased based on measures of surface defects rather than finish type. Surface defects, as determined using a surface roughness gauge, produced a correlation of 0.82 with spore counts. Data also indicated that biofilm was more difficult to remove than milk-based soil.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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