Ice Cream Plant Sanitation & Quality Control Parameters

Quality should be the first thing you think about whenever you set out to make any food product. Ensuring ice cream sanitation during ice cream manufacturing will influence the quality of the end product.

Standard sanitation programs are necessary to reduce ingredient contamination. As such, you will need to ensure proper sanitation for ice cream during production by using only the highest quality of ingredients and the cleanest equipment.

To achieve satisfactory levels of ice cream sanitation at the plant, implement the following:

  • Ensure that all the workers are clean and healthy. They should be trained in quality control and processing
  • Ensure that only the highest quality ingredients are used
  • Adopt proper processing techniques such as quick-freezing method to avoid ice cream defects
  • Use appropriate equipment to process the ice cream
  • Maintain high standards of plant hygiene and sanitation
  • Adopt proper distribution channels that will maintain high quality of the product

The ice cream sanitation parameters include:

1. Chemical and physical composition of the ingredients

Here, check the viscosity of the mix (using viscometer) and the stabilizing capacity of the stabilizers used in the mix

2. Microbiological tests

Conduct Total Viable Count (TVC) and Total Plate Count (TPC) of the product. Also carry out coliform (especially fecal coliform) test on the product to ensure that it is of very high hygienic standards.

As a minimum standard, an ice cream should meet the following parameters:

  • The overrun must not exceed 100%
  • There should be ZERO pathogens
  • Total plate count should have less than 105 Colony forming units (CFU) per ml
  • Non-fecal coliforms should be less than 102 CFU/ml
  • Fecal coliforms should be ZERO

3. Sensory evaluation of the ice cream

Use an ice cream score chart to conduct the sensory analysis. A typical score card would look like this:


Possible points




 Assign score

Body and texture


 Assign score

Colour, appearance & packaging


 Assign score

Melting quality


 Assign score



 Assign score



 Total score (sum up)

Using the chart, award points for each category based on how you perceive the quality to be.

This scorecard emphasizes the degree of perfection n ice cream quality and gives the manufacturer room for improvements.

The analysis for the score awarded to the ice cream sample should conform to the category table below:

Total score (%)



Excellent quality


Good quality


Fair quality


Poor quality


A proper quality ice cream should provide the following nutrients:

  • Butterfat – 12g/100g
  • MSNF – 11g/100g
  • Stabilizer – 0.3g/100g
  • Proteins – 41g/100g
  • Carbohydrates – 20.7g/100g
  • Minerals (calcium 122, Phosphorus 105, Potassium 90, Sodium 60, Iron 0.1) – 0.9g/100g
  • Vitamin A – 492 international Units (IU)
  • Thiamine (vit B1) – 0.04mg
  • Riboflavin (vit B2) – 0.23mg
  • Niacin (vit B3) – 0.1mg
  • Vitamin C – 1.0mg

Ice cream sanitation activities at the plant

Thorough cleaning and sanitation of the ice cream plant equipment is necessary to assure the quality of the products. It is futile to sterilize dirty equipment because it only increases the chances of recontamination.

Conducting a thorough cleaning will not only make the equipment clean but also provide an opportunity to inspect the facility for wear and tear.

The equipment can be scrapped using an abrasive material or a detergent under high pressure can be used. Soap use is discouraged because it is very difficult to completely rinse from the system. Furthermore, soap leaves a thin film on the surface of the equipment.

Don't use soap to clean processing equipment; it is hard to rinse and leaves a contaminating film behind.

On the other hand, a strong alkali may corrode the equipment. Use only correct proportions and correct concentrations.

Some of the cleaning detergents include:

  • Sodium metasilicate
  • Sodium carbonate (softening agent)
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Sulphonated alcohols are very instrumental as softening agents in the cleaning detergents.

Factors affecting the cleaning agents include:

  • Temperature of the cleaning solution
  • Concentration of the cleaning agent
  • Contact time of the cleaning solution
  • Pressure exerted by the cleaning solution

The procedure for cleaning equipment in an ice cream plant

  1. Begin by (pre)rinsing the equipment with warm water (26-43°C). If the milk has dried on the equipment, let it soak for some time.
  2. Scrub the surface using brushes with the detergent solution. Brush both inside and outside of the equipment.
  3. Rinse again with water at 37-43°C to remove all the cleaning agent from the equipment
  4. Sanitize/sterilize the equipment using certain chemical compounds such as:

Quaternary ammonium compounds

Dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, which is effective at concentrations of at least 200 ppm (or 200 mg/kg). These compounds are preferred because of their wetting ability, non-toxicity, and non-corrosive nature. They should be used at pH 5 and a temperature of 23°C.


Sodium hypochlorite, which is very corrosive. The corrosive nature of hypochlorites necessitate their usage at concentrations of between 50-200 ppm. Hypochlorite compounds act very fast.


These are very slow in action and used at concentrations of between 50-200 ppm. After sterilization, steam all the equipment at 115°C under pressure for five minutes. You may also use hot water and/or air at between 82-100°C for ten minutes to sterilize the system.

  1. Dry the equipment. This step may be omitted if the equipment is to be used immediately.

CIP Procedure: Advantages and Disadvantages of CIP System

CIP cleaning and sanitization of the ice cream plant equipment is necessary to assure the quality of the products. Thorough cleaning is necessary because it is futile to sterilize dirty equipment.

Conducting a thorough cleaning will not only make the equipment clean but also provide an opportunity to inspect the facility for wear and tear.

The equipment can be scrapped using an abrasive material or a detergent under high pressure can be used. Soap use is discouraged as it is very difficult to completely rinse from the system and leaves a thin film on the surface of the equipment. Strong alkali may corrode the equipment.

Cleaning In Place (CIP)

According to The Society of Dairy Technology, CIP is:

The cleaning of complete items of plant or pipeline circuits without dismantling or opening of the equipment and with little or no manual involvement on the part of the operator.


The efficiency of a CIP system goes beyond what the eyes can see. It not only removes the soil but also traces of bacteria, yeast, and spores, whose effects you may only be trace through smell.

CIP cleaning not only removes soil but also bacteria, yeast, and spores you cannot reach by other means.

The CIP procedure

  1. Begin by rinsing the system.
  2. Flush the system with an alkaline detergent at 65 - 71°C for 20 – 30 minutes. The alkaline detergent will dissolve fat and protein deposits in the system.
  3. Rinse with water at 68°C for 5 – 7 minutes.
  4. Circulate the cleaning solution, which should be slightly acidic (between 0.15 - 0.6%) under pressure for 25 – 30 minutes. It should dissolve the mineral deposits in the system and neutralize any traces alkaline detergent.
  5. Rinse with cold water until the pH stabilizes then sterilize/sanitize.

Advantages of a CIP cleaning system

  1. Minimizes the cleaning time and reduces manual labor involved in cleaning
  2. Increased economy in use of cleaning detergents, which helps in cutting the operational costs
  3. Automated systems clean better than manual systems due to their consistency
  4. Automated cleaning increases the level of equipment/storage space utilization
  5. CIP systems enhance safety at the processing plant since people do not come into direct contact with the cleaning detergents
  6. CIP systems can reach and effectively clean places, which you cannot reach by any other means
  7. Enaced efficiency will definitely improve productivity at the plant. There will be efficient use of water and detergents

Disadvantages of a CIP cleaning system

  1. Expensive to install
  2. Needs professional personnel to operate. Experienced operators are not very cheap
  3. Once you start cleaning, you cannot stop the process, otherwise you will compromise the hygiene. CIP systems use a constant volume of water even if you just needed to clean one pipe in the system

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Food Scientist | Interested in Data Science for Quality Management | Learning python | Agribusiness consultant with special interest in food processing and quality assurance. | Solve this if you can - if a ship had 26 goats and 10 sheep onboard, how old is the ship's captain?