Knife Sterilisation in Food Manufacture

The food manufacturing industry makes extensive use of knives, and while this industry has pressure and time constraints, this cannot, with hygiene in mind, be allowed to impact on knife maintenance. Sterilising knives properly is essential to food industry ‘best practice’ and it need not be difficult, costly or unnecessarily time-consuming.



The Importance of Knife Sterilisation

A knife that has not been properly sterilised is therefore a dirty knife that can then contaminate one batch of food with residue from another batch (often microscopic residue that is difficult to see with the naked eye) and that in turn can change the flavour, texture and quality. This can cause a wide range of problems from failed batches to loss of income. In addition, improperly sterilised knives can cause a food establishment to run afoul of regulators, leading to potentially expensive fines and restrictions on business activity.

Most importantly, a knife that is used over a prolonged period of time without sterilisation can acquire surface toxins that can contaminate food and endanger health. For these reasons, proper knife sterilisation is crucial.


The Steps Involved in Proper Knife Sterilisation

Whereas home sterilisation of knives is a simple matter of boiling some water and then dousing the knife in the boiled water for five minutes, for busy food service establishments, this procedure will not suffice. What is required is professional knife sterilising equipment.

There are differing methods used in professional sterilisation - some equipment relies on a flow of superheated water passing through a sealed cabinet, while other equipment involves exposing the knife blade to ultraviolet light. However these can accommodate several knives at one time.

The procedure for sterilizing a knife is quite simple, the basics being the insertion of the blades into the sterilisation cabinet for a short time to cleanse the blade and then its removal. It is essential that the sterilisation cabinet be made of stainless steel, as stainless steel resists both erosion and flaking of residue that can contaminate the knife, as well as being resistant to high temperatures and ultraviolet rays.

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) uses ultra violet light at a short wavelength to kill the undesirable micro-organisms, whereas water-based sterilising will use steam or hot water to kill the microbial life.

View our range of knife sterilisation equipment here.