Introducing The Hygiene Hustle – an exciting new podcast brought to you by Phil May in association with Klipspringer. From challenging stereotypes and exploring key processes to offering insights informed by Phil’s twenty years in food factories, this podcast aims to provide both recognition and support for the hygiene teams working tirelessly throughout our industry.  

In its premiere episode, The Hygiene Hustle sets the record straight on the role of Hygiene Operatives – highlighting the importance and intricacies of the work they carry out. Phil also takes you through the process of creating Cleaning Instruction Cards and finishes up with a guide to recording a Validated Clean.  

Skip straight to the section most relevant to your needs.

You can also watch the full podcast below:


Hygiene Operatives

A common misconception among those outside of the food industry is that the title of Hygiene Operative is interchangeable with the title of Cleaner. Although cleanliness is a key consideration for Hygiene Operatives, Phil grants them several additional titles: 

Engineer: Hygiene Operatives need to have an in-depth understanding of the machinery at their factory. To ensure an effective clean takes place, they will often have to take apart their machines and put them back together. 

Process specialist: Hygiene Operatives need to understand how the machines in their factory work, otherwise there is a high likelihood of a machine being re-contaminated once the different parts have been cleaned.  

Chemical specialist: If their factory handles chemicals, it is extremely important that a Hygiene Operative knows what chemical to apply, what concentration they are working with, what time constraints they are working under, and at what part of the process the chemicals need to be used.  

Cleaning specialist: Whether it’s a bottle and a brush or a squeegee and the floor, Hygiene Operatives need to know which processes to implement when they are cleaning specific pieces of equipment and machinery.  

Time managers: Along with all of their other responsibilities, Hygiene Operatives are extremely talented when it comes to time management. They are tasked with making decisions, often on a nightly basis, in response to a variety of challenges. Say production overruns or a line breaks down and needs to be fixed before it can be cleaned, it is up to the Hygiene Operative to work out how to overcome these hurdles.  

Cleaning Instruction Cards (part one)

When writing a Cleaning Instruction Card, otherwise known as a CIC, Phil suggests linking the reference number and name to a specific area of your factory. For example, if you had a low risk cooking area, the reference number would contain: LRC. Alternatively, a high care change area would be: HCCH. This approach makes it easier to identify where a piece of machinery is when the time comes to clean it. It is also an option to assign an asset number for each piece of equipment.  

Phil would expect to see two dates on a CIC. One is the date that the CIC was created and the other is the date it was last updated. This will be read alongside the version number to find out who has updated the card and when, making sure all operatives are working in accordance with the latest update.  

To increase accountability, the CIC should feature the name of the person responsible for cleaning, along with the name of the person responsible for checking each clean.  

Cleaning Instruction Cards (part two)

CICs should feature all of the essential health and safety information. This includes the details of any chemicals that are going to be used, the concentration, and the relevant time frames. There should also be any instructions for lock offs. It’s helpful if there is a picture of where you lock off, then details of how the machine is locked off and at what stage of the process.  

PPE also sits under the umbrella of health and safety. From cut resistant gloves to full face visors, all of the equipment requirements need to be clearly listed.  

Finally, the CIC needs to include any special precautions. For example, there might be a piece of equipment that is especially heavy and needs two people to carry it. Alternatively, you might be working with a machine that requires a blade guard. Any such requirement needs to be documented in detail.  

Cleaning Instruction Cards (part three)

The bulk of the CIC is the method, essentially how you are going to carry out the clean. It’s possible there will be multiple processes for each piece of equipment. Think allergen cleans, daily cleans, deep cleans, periodical cleans, and interim cleans. Each process needs to have a different description and Phil strongly recommends using annotated photos.  

Last but not least, the CIC needs to have key inspection points. These are the points that an auditor will check first, so it is important that they are checked after every clean. 

Creating Cleaning Instruction Cards

Most chemical companies have their own software for creating Cleaning Instruction Cards. CICs can also be created independently – built in Word or Excel. Hygiene Operatives are ultimately responsible for creating these cards, but it is often a good idea to turn to other departments for input. In his experience, Phil often turned to engineering to make sure the strip down of a machine is safe, that engineering doesn’t have to be directly involved in the strip down, and that the process is going to result in all the correct pieces of equipment being accessed. Phil also recommends turning to your health and safety department for guidance.  

Recording a Validated Clean

A complete Cleaning Instruction Card will also feature a Validated Clean. Establishing a Validated Clean can be a bit confusing, as the best way to work out what method to use is to clean the machine. However, it’s hard to do this correctly without a CIC in place. The solution is to find a version of the equipment that is already in existence and already has a CIC. You can then use this information to inform your initial clean.  

You will also find that most cleaning processes have, more or less, the same six steps:  

  1. Rinse
  2. Chemical Foam
  3. Manual Agitation
  4. Second Rinse
  5. Disinfection
  6. Final Rinse

For further details, it is worth reaching out to your cleaning supplier, as a lot of the major chemical companies employ application specialists. Another idea is to reach out to the manufacturer of the machine, as some companies share cleaning instructions alongside the expected manuals. These instructions will be very basic, so you won’t receive the details of which chemicals to use or when to clean the machines, but you will get a better idea of how to strip a machine and discover which parts are vital to the cleaning process. Finally, Phil recommends reaching out to your engineering department, talking to the person who ordered the equipment, and reading the manual that came with the order. 

In the second episode of The Hygiene Hustle, Phil explores everything you need to know about Validation, so don’t forget to tune into the next release.

For exciting updates, Phil is on Instagram @hygienehustlepod and receives emails at: Phil is also happy to answer any questions and take topic requests for future episodes.