Cross-contamination — or “carryover” for those who want to be politically correct — can result in recalls from a mislabeled product. That’s why many bakers and snack operators are now installing clean-in-place (CIP) or continuous washing systems on their spirals or conveyors.

“They’re being used by contract manufacturers who have a bunch of short runs, and they need to clean their conveyors between each run to avoid carrying over material from one product to the next,” observed Peter White, president and chief executive officer of IJ White, Farmingdale, N.Y. “They’re used in cake, cookie, muffin or bar applications where you have high sugar or sticky products that may leave residue on the belts.”

IJ White offers a number of systems that clean the frames, tracks and cages with a three-stage approach that involves washing with detergent and rinsing before sanitizing.

G&F Systems and Alit USA also provide conveyor washing systems, including CIP for automated cleaning of spiral conveyors.

“Each of our systems is designed to pulverize any food build-up on the equipment and/or belt, keeping the system sanitized,” said Anthony Salsone, senior associate, G&F Systems.

In recent years, new conveyor designs allow spirals to wash conveyors from the inside out. That wasn’t always the case.

“Before, you cleaned them when the system was shut down, and you had a guy on a ladder hosing down the spirals,” Mr. White noted. “Today, it’s all automated. You turn it on, and you can even control the cleaning process through a PLC.”

The typical time today to automatically clean a spiral system ranges from 60 to 90 minutes.

“In the past, cleaning conveyors was a mess with water getting all over the place,” Mr. White said. “It could take up to a half or even a full day to clean them.”