Foodgrade Cleaning Comes a Long Way

June 1, 1999
Digest of a presentation made by John Pontecorvo, Gateway Terminal Service Corp, during the National Tank Truck Carriers Tank Cleaning Seminar April 12

Digest of a presentation made by John Pontecorvo, Gateway Terminal Service Corp, during the National Tank Truck Carriers Tank Cleaning Seminar April 12 and 13 in St Petersburg, Florida.

In the early 1990s, we saw newspaper headlines, such as "Truckslop" and "Convoys of Filth." Television programs, such as 20-20 and Geraldo reported abuses by the transportation industry regarding foodgrade hauling.

Legislation was drafted in Congress under the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990. The topic was "hot," and our industry struggled to clean up its image. Pictures of chemical trucks backhauling vegetable oils and reefer trailers hauling produce one way and garbage another sickened the public.

Today, much progress has been made in the handling of foodgrade commodities and the requirements for cleanliness of foodgrade transportation equipment. Even though the legislation was never enacted, shippers and consignees, as well as the truckers themselves, now require strict protocol for tank washes and preparation.

In 1986, Gateway decided to build a foodgrade wash system. While doing our market survey, we found that Coca Cola had put together procedures and equipment requirements for the cleaning of sweeteners tanks. These procedures and equipment requirements became the model for our new foodgrade wash system.

Coke Standards I have listed some of the key points from the Coca Cola manual that will give an idea of what is needed to qualify as a cleaning facility certified to clean Coca Cola products.

1)Facility must only wash tankers that carry foodgrade materials. 2)Acceptable previous products are as follows: Clear nonflavored beverage, alcohol, caramel-colored foodgrade citric acid, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, liquid invert, liquid sucrose, sorbital, potable water, carbonated beverage syrup. 3)Tanker cannot haul milk products or vegetable oil. 4)Cleaning must be done indoors. 5)Use only hot water. No soap or detergents are allowed. 6)Water must be softened and treated to avoid calcium build-up in heat exchangers and piping. 7)Wash water must be filtered to eliminate rust and sand. 8)Holding tanks, pumps, piping, and valves must be stainless steel. 9)Boiler chemicals must be Food and Drug Administration approved. 10)Water temperature must be a minimum of 180 degrees F. 11)Cargo tank interior must be washed every 24 hours even if the unit was not used. 12)Wash ticket must show the following: date, time in and out, contents of previous load, description of wash procedure, temperature of wash water, duration of wash cycle. 13)The tank exterior must be cleaned regularly. 14)Tanks must be sealed after the wash is completed, and seal numbers recorded on wash ticket.

As you can see, cleaning sweeteners and related products is not difficult. In particular, the sweeteners melt with hot water and leave no residue.

Challenging Edibles On the other hand, we learned that there is another side to foodgrade cleaning that is somewhat different and much more challenging. This involves the hard to clean products, such as: Chocolate Yelkin (used in candy bars) Lecithin (hard candy) Dem 117 (bubble gum) Pan grease Heavy orange juice concentrate Orange essence (heavy odor) Hydrogenated oils Recovery oils Pear concentrate Eggs

These products require higher pressures for cleaning and the use of detergents and foodgrade caustic. Cargo tanks must be pre-flushed before being cleaned. Heel management plays an important part in the preparation process.

Pressure Tests At this time, I would like to share with you some information regarding pump pressures and gallons per minute. This data was developed during some tests that we have been performing.

Using a 20-horsepower pump, we're generating 145 psi and 50 gallons per minute with a quarter-inch nozzle. With a five-sixteenths-inch nozzle, we get 115 psi and 77 gallons per minute. The rates with a three-eighths-inch nozzle are 110 psi and 90 gallons per minute.

With a 40-hp pump, we have achieved 152 psi and 50 gallons per minute with a quarter-inch nozzle. The results with the five-sixteenths-inch nozzle are 145 psi and 75 gallons per minute. We get 125 psi and 90 gallons per minute with a three-eighths-inch nozzle.

One final note on foodgrade tank cleaning: Foodgrade tank cleaners must exercise extreme caution during tank entry. Nitrogen is being used increasingly for unloading of edibles.