Acid Sanitizers

Acid sanitizers are considered toxicologically safe and biologically active and are frequently used to combine the rinsing and sanitizing steps. Organic acids such as acetic, peroxyacetic, lactic, propionic, and formic acid are most frequently used in meat sanitation. The acid neutralizes excess alkalinity that remains from the cleaning compounds, prevents formation of alkaline deposits, and sanitizes. These compounds are especially effective on stainless steel surfaces or where contact time may be extended and have a high antimicrobial activity against psychrotropic microorganisms.

These sanitizers are fast-acting and effective against yeasts and viruses. A pH level of below 3 is most ideal for the performance of acid sanitizers. These sanitizers have good wetting properties and are nonstaining and usually noncorrosive, permitting exposure to equipment overnigh. Hard water and residual organic matter do not have a major effect on the ability of acid anionic sanitizers to destroy microorganisms, and they can be applied by CIP methods or by spray, or they can be foamed on if a foam additive is incorporated. Because acid sanitizers can lose their effectiveness in the presence of alkaline residuals or in the presence of cationic surfactants, all cleaning compounds should be rinsed from surfaces before acid sanitizers are applied.

The development of automated cleaning systems in food plants, where it is desirable to combine sanitizing with a final rinse, has made the use of acid sanitizers more attractive. Although these compounds are sensitive to pH change, they are less prone to be affected by hard water than the iodines. Nonfoaming acid synthetic detergent sanitizers are available to enhance drainage of the sanitizers from the equipment, thus increasing the utility of acid sanitizers for the food industry. Acids are not as efficient as irradiation and, when applied at high concentrations, can cause slight discoloration and odor on meat surfaces. Experiments with acetic acid have revealed a lack of effectiveness in the reduction of Salmonella contamination and thermoduric microorganisms.

Carboxylic acid sanitizers are effective over a broad range of bactericidal activity. Carboxylic acid is known as a fatty acid sanitizer and is composed of free fatty acids, sulfonated fatty acids, and other organic acids. They are stable in dilutions, in the presence of organic matter, and at high temperatures. These sanitizers are noncorrosive to stainless steel, provide a good shelf life, are cost-effective, and act as a sanitizer and acid rinse. Carboxylic acid is less effective against yeasts and molds and not as effective above pH 3.44.0 as some chemical sanitizers. This sanitizer is corrosive to nonstainless steels, plastics, and some rubbers.

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