In 2012, the industry plans to take a big step with the update of the ANSI standard for the sanitary design of bakery equipment.
Even though the baking industry has enjoyed a long history of product safety, times have changed with the technological advances in food safety and epidemiology. During the past three years, more than 400 bakery and snack products have been recalled in the US. Many of these incidents resulted in people becoming ill due to undeclared allergens or microbiological contamination. The ability to thoroughly clean and sanitize bakery equipment can be labor-intensive, especially if the equipment is not well designed. That’s why the industry has taken it upon itself to review the standards and update them where necessary to further advance food protection.
During the past year, several baking industry organizations — including the American Bakers Association (ABA), AIB International, American Society of Baking (ASB) and BEMA — asked Gale Prince, president of Sage Food Safety Consultants, Cincinnati, OH, and his business partner, Jennifer Frankenberg, to work with them to review and update the ANSI/ASB/Z50.2 Bakery Equipment Sanitation Requirements.
Both Mr. Prince and Ms. Frankenberg, who are experts when it comes to food safety, traceability and quality control, worked with a group of volunteer bakers and equipment companies to update the ANSI/ASB Z50.2 Bakery Equipment — Sanitation Requirement (formerly known as the Baking Industry Sanitation Standards Committee or BISSC standard). According to Ms. Frankenberg, the bakery equipment standard is voluntary and follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus process. Specifically, this group completed a review of the definitions and underlying principles that gives “teeth” to the standard by establishing relevancy.
In the past, progress in this area has been painfully slow, if not nonexistent, but not anymore. Here is an update on the additional significant progress the industry has made on this critical issue.
Baking & Snack: In what areas have you made the greatest strides in revising and upgrading the industry’s sanitation standard?
Jennifer Frankenberg: During the past six months, we have facilitated more than 45 conference calls with nine working groups and conducted several webinars. The working group leaders — the group chairs — developed a mission statement that provides the guiding principle for the groups and clarifies that this work is being done to enhance food safety for bakery equipment. They have also established goals for their working groups and will continue to update those goals as the work progresses.
Besides the definitions and principles, the working groups, which are divided by bakery equipment functions, have reviewed the sections of the standard that apply to their specific types of equipment such as mixers, ovens and pan washers. A completed draft with all the suggested changes is scheduled to be submitted in February to the American Society of Baking Z50 Committee for its review and vote.
How does this progress compare with your expectations and goals for this past year?
Gale Prince: We give credit to the number of equipment manufacturers and equipment users that have stepped forward to support the update of the ANSI/ASB Z50.2 bakery equipment standard and the willingness of industry members to share their technical knowledge. The nine working groups are made up of individuals with unique, complementary expertise. It is so interesting to watch the dynamics of their expertise come together in our conference calls and webinars as they so willingly share their knowledge in proposing changes to the standard to enhance equipment performance.
What remain the major challenges ahead?
Mr. Prince: The real value of enhancing the bakery equipment standard involves the end user who will be able to economically and effectively clean bakery equipment, which is very important to protect a brand image. Food recalls continue to occur due to contamination in the production process related to equipment or environmental aspects around how food equipment is installed and used.
We need more equipment users to join in to share their operational experience and expertise to bring additional value to the process. I would like to bring more bakery sanitors, plant engineers, production managers, quality control managers and microbiologists into our working groups so they can use their practical experience in defining what they would like to see to make their jobs easier when effectively cleaning equipment.
Plant sanitors who have had to clean the equipment day after day for years have a wealth of ideas on how to improve sanitary design that can minimize reoccurring labor hours. Plant engineers who have to maintain the equipment also have a vast knowledge of how design enhancements can improve sanitation and overall performance in the long run. One sees cleanability in a different light when his or her job is to effectively get the equipment clean with minimal man-hours and limited downtime every day. This is where the value of the sanitary design advancements can have the biggest payoffs.
The mandatory cleaning of that piece of equipment brings with it a daily reoccurring labor charges that affect the user’s operating costs and productivity. Everyone needs to keep in mind that while a piece of food processing equipment is a one-time purchase, it brings with it many years of use. I wish we had some hard cost figures that demonstrate the differences in operational costs related to sanitary design over the life of a piece of equipment. If someone has these numbers, we would sure like to hear from them to help the working groups focus their attention.
Too often when we are in a bakery, we see equipment that has been modified for the purpose of improving its cleanability or performance. The updating of the bakery equipment standards must address the needs of the users and their ability to effectively clean a piece of equipment with efficient use of labor hours. While we are reviewing the standard, we need to focus our attention on the balance of equipment design, durability, reliability and the ease of cleaning, as well as the operational safety of the employees working with the equipment. By bringing manufacturers, engineers and users to the table, the standard can be improved to benefit all parties involved.
With rapid changes in science, regulatory requirements and food safety demands, we need to be thinking ahead in terms of equipment design and fulfilling consumer expectations in food safety. Today, when food manufacturers are purchasing new equipment, they need to look at more than just the macro aspects of equipment design. Food safety is rapidly changing with more attention being paid to microbiological contamination of food products during the manufacturing process.
What are you hoping to present to the industry at the BEMA Winter Summit in March?
Ms. Frankenberg: We’ll certainly talk about the accomplishments during the past several months of the working groups and their group leaders. They have contributed a lot of hours from their busy schedules in an effort to advance the sanitary design of bakery equipment. We’ll also discuss the goals for 2012. We still have a lot of work ahead of us.
This is not a one-time project, but an ongoing process of refining this standard. As such, many of the groups will continue their work. We hope to recruit more members, especially bakers, to fill out the working groups and increase the number of perspectives. We also want to involve other bakery-related trade organizations and regulators to strengthen credibility. This standard not only extends to traditional bakery equipment but also to other commercial equipment used in bakeries. The standard affects all types and sizes bakeries so we want to draw in all facets of the bakery and snack foods industry.
Once the working groups have finalized their input, we plan on including some technical diagrams that demonstrate appropriate design details in a pictorial fashion for better understanding of the standard and installations that enhance effective cleaning practices.
Finally, we plan to increase industry awareness and participation through different forms of media such as trade association newsletters, webinars and publications like this one. We also encourage current working group members to spread the news of their efforts through word of mouth.
What is the process if someone wants to get involved now or wants to recommend further changes to the revised standard?
Mr. Prince: We recommend people take a look at www.asbe.org. They can click on Resources, and then ANSI Standards. The standard we are discussing is referred to as the ANSI/ASB Z50.2 Sanitation Standard. Visitors can download a copy of the latest version of the standard, see the current active working groups, and see a list of scheduled conference calls for each group. For more information or to get involved in the process, we recommend contacting Ms. Frankenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the facilitator of this project. Individuals can get involved at any time and join any working group they wish — they can even join more than one working group. Again, we encourage equipment users to participate and have a say in the revisions of the standard.
Requests for interpretations to any aspect of the standard or recommendations for further changes to the standard can be addressed to email@example.com.
This story is sponsored by POWER Engineers, which has one of the most comprehensive teams of engineers and specialists serving the baking and snack industry. As an extension of its clients' engineering teams, the company provides program management, integrated solutions and full facility design for the baking and snack industry. Learn more at www.powereng.com/food.