Baking & Snack - June 2018 - 103
Controlling water allows bakers to reduce downtime,
streamline production and enhance food and employee safety.
Circleb - stock.adobe.com
by Dan Malovany
If Karl Thorson had a bucket list, his first wish would be
that the bucket never contains water when it comes to
cleaning bakeries and snack operations. For Mr. Thorson,
food safety and sanitation manager at Minneapolis-based
General Mills, water may be the source of life, but then
again, maybe that's the problem. All types of living things
grow because of it, and not all of them - like Listeria -
are necessarily good.
"If we're going to make a change in the food industry,
especially in the production of low-moisture foods, we are
going to have to control water," he said. "It is the root of all
of our evils, especially when related to pathogen risks."
It's not only uncontrollable but also often unstoppable in
even the best-run operations. "Water has historically been a
demon when it comes to bakery reliability," explained Mike
Pierce, president, The Austin Co. "When electrical panels are not properly sealed, either through design or employee practice, water can enter and cause havoc. We think
about instances where shorted-out motors or controls have
caused big problems, but the conductivity through the water back to the hose holder creates a safety issue that is often overlooked. The cleaning crew is at risk when the water
and the electrical components connect."
That's not the only safety issue, according to Mr. Pierce.
"Water and some flour dust or dough remnants on the
floor can cause employees to lose traction and have a slipand-fall accident," he observed.
All too often, water pops up almost anywhere due to
unexpected leaks, faulty piping and persistent pooling because the floor isn't properly sloped to a drain, and nobody
thinks to mop it up.
In his "war on water," Mr. Thorson explained that the
battles must be urgently fought on every front. "I like to
use the kitchen analogy," he said. "If you went home tonight, saw your sink dripping water, standing water on
your kitchen floor and condensation from your cold-water
pipes, you would immediately correct all of those things
before going to bed."
Good to the last drop
For Mr. Thorson, wars are always won when there's nothing left to fight, so the best solution is to eliminate water
altogether. During the past few years, he's developed a hierarchy of cleaning methods. "Our ultimate goal is zero
cleaning," he observed. "That's the ideal state. We don't
want to have to clean. It doesn't add any value to our processes for consumers."
Flushing out materials between changeovers on a
production line - especially if it involves flavors, colors
or other sensory attributes - is an option. Mr. Thorson
pointed out that switching from a dark chocolate coating to a lighter variety can be done easily on many systems with little or no waste, or noticeable differences in
In other applications, flushing a system with salt or
another abrasive ingredient can loosen up debris and
www.bakingandsnack.com / June 2018 Baking & Snack 103