Exclusive: New standards for sanitation

by Dan Malovany
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For more than a decade, many bakers and equipment suppliers bemoaned how the Baking Industry Sanitation Standards Committee’s (BISSC) standard had become outdated and increasingly irrelevant as technology advanced. That’s why  several organizations — including the American Bakers Association (ABA), AIB International and BEMA — enlisted Gale Prince, president of Sage Food Safety Consultants, Cincinnati, and his business partner, Jennifer Frankenberg, to review what is now known as the ANSI/ASB/Z50.2 Bakery Equipment — Sanitation Requirement.

Mr. Prince and Ms. Frankenberg, who are experts when it comes to food safety, traceability and quality control, collaborated with a group of bakers and equipment vendors to update ANSI/ASB/Z50.2. According to Ms. Frankenberg, the voluntary standard follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus process.

Ms. Frankenberg has food industry experience that includes regulatory compliance, recall administration, sales and marketing, and ingredients procurement. She works with regulatory agencies on issues such as product questions, recall activities and food-borne illness investigations and also performs dairy plant inspections to ensure regulatory compliance and high sanitation standards.

As BEMA and the American Society of Baking (ASB) get ready to hold their annual Best Week in Baking in early March, she provided a progress report on what the industry has accomplished during the past two years.

Dan Malovany: What is the status of the ANSI/ASB/Z50.2 Bakery Equipment — Sanitation Requirements?

Jennifer Frankenberg: In 2011, baking industry representatives, including bakers, bakery engineers, equipment manufacturers and academics, participated in updating the ANSI Z50.2 standard. In February 2012, a revised draft of the standard was presented to ASB’s Z50 Committee, which then voted to move the revision forward through the ANSI approval process. In October 2012, the ANSI Board of Standard Review approved this new version of the ASB Z50.2 standard. This official document is now posted on ASB’s website (www.asbe.org). This year, our volunteers will continue to improve and revise the standard. For example, they want to reduce redundancies within the document and include new types of equipment.

How does the standard compare with a year ago?

The 2012 version looks quite different from the previous document. It contains more than 260 individual line changes. In addition, 23 subsections were permanently removed and another 50 subsections were added. The most substantial revisions were made to the Definitions and the Principles of Design sections. These sections help define important terms, acceptable materials and goals in the design and fabrication of bakery equipment; therefore, additional focus was placed on them. Overall, the standard is more robust.

What areas caused the most challenges?

The Definitions and Principles of Design sections are critical to the rest of the standard, and the wording had to be precise enough to avoid confusion but general enough so as not to exclude specific equipment designs. The group has been careful to avoid dictating specific design elements of bakery equipment without compromising good sanitary design.

In some areas, it came down to specific wording. For example, on some principles, there were extended discussions on the use of “should” or “shall.” While these may seem like small issues, decisions such as these made large impacts on the meaning of the specific principle and were instrumental to improving the standard.

This year, the challenge has been incorporating new equipment types or features. We have new groups that are working on electrical controls and robotics. Another working group is looking at bagel equipment. These groups have been writing new sections from scratch, rather than updating pre-existing sections, which has proven more difficult.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I have to give credit to the working groups. They have been diligent about carving out time and really participating in the conference calls and email discussions. Most importantly, they have taken on these challenges with great enthusiasm. Also, we received feedback from several individuals not involved in the project that has helped focus our work and raised some important questions that needed to be addressed.

How can the standard help to build better equipment and engineer a better bakery?

In recent years, we have seen several large-scale recalls involving microbiological contamination and allergens. These recalls have affected the baking industry and point to increased importance for sanitary equipment design. With enactment of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food processors will be required to demonstrate that their equipment and process are capable of producing a safe product. In addition, the Global Food Safety Initiative’s auditing programs continue to focus more attention on the sanitary design of food processing equipment, installation and maintenance as they improve food safety. This standard is a guide that addresses each of these issues.

What costs will the standard add to making equipment going forward?

Our volunteers have concentrated on creating language that allows sanitary equipment design without adding unnecessary cost factors. They have been careful not to dictate design elements but also not to skimp on food safety and quality associated with sanitary equipment design.

In the discussion of equipment cost, one must also consider the balance between the cost of the labor necessary to effectively clean and maintain equipment and the cost of investing in new equipment with sanitary design. With today’s rapidly changing regulatory and food safety requirements, sanitary design is critical to achieving compliance while also providing labor efficiencies.

Another factor to consider is the potential costs of a recall if the old equipment cannot be adequately cleaned. The standard also takes into account the ease of disassembly to prevent harborages of foreign material, allergens and pathogens.

What still needs to be done?

The ASB Z50.2 standard must continue to provide the leading principles for the sanitary design of bakery equipment. To do that, it must be continually updated to reflect changes not only in the baking industry but also in the food processing industry as a whole. The regulatory environment is shifting with emphasis by federal, state and local officials on cleanability of food equipment. We are continuing to revise the standard. One focus this year has been reducing redundancies in the text of the standard. Another has been incorporating new equipment and equipment elements such as electrical controls and robotics.

What kind of help do you still need?

We still have a shortage of active bakers involved in the design of this standard. We need more voices from the sanitors and maintenance personnel who clean and maintain bakery equipment. We believe individuals directly involved in sanitation and maintenance on a day-to-day basis can shed new light on areas of equipment where further improvements are needed. To get involved in the project or to just find out more information, I can be reached via email at jfrankenberg@sagefoodsafety.com.

How can companies use the standard for developing and promoting their equipment at Baking Expo 2013?

Currently, there is a certification process available through AIB International. Through either a self-certification or third-party verification process, companies can obtain certification to the standard. Once they obtain this, they can promote their equipment as certified to the standard in company literature, advertisements and signage. 

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