Panel encourages dialog, education on ANSI Z50 standards

by Nico Roesler
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A panel of experts from ASB, ABA and AIB International discussed ANSI Z50 standards at ASB BakingTech 2017.
 

Questions and misunderstandings still abound when it comes to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z50 bakery equipment safety and sanitation standards. The standards created an updated industry-led certification system, but bakers and suppliers are still trying to fully grasp the change.

 

That may be because of the confusion surrounding the standards. Do they replace the Baking Industry Sanitation Standards Committee’s (BISSC) standards? Who enforces them? How does a piece of equipment become certified? And would having ANSI Z50 certificates for a bakery’s processing equipment make a difference when being inspected for compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules?

 

A panel of experts representing the American Society of Baking (ASB), American Bakers Association (ABA) and AIB International discussed these questions at the recent ASB BakingTech 2017. Jon Anderson, founder and CEO of JRA Occupational Safety Consulting, along with Mike Day, president of Banner-Day Corp., Toby Steward, former regional sales manager at TNA North America and vice-chairman of ASB’s Z50 committee, and Brian Strouts, vice-president of baking and food technical services at AIB International, tried to clear up many questions surrounding the standards.

 

It all starts with understanding the difference between the two ANSI Z50 standards: Z50.1 and Z50.2. The Z50.1 standard covers employee and equipment safety and mirrors OSHA requirements but is, by itself, not a legal standard. The Z50.2 portion focuses on sanitation requirements.

 

The ANSI Z50 standards were established in 2003 to replace the BISSC standards. Over the past 16 years, ASB’s Z50 committee updated, edited, replaced and improved the standards based on industry input creating today’s standard. BISSC remains a part of AIB International as the certification office.

 

“We believe it’s far better for the industry to have a standard that was developed by our industry and for our industry rather than having one imposed on us by someone not familiar with it,” Mr. Day said.

 

The equipment standards are a way to help bakers comply with FSMA and OSHA standards. Equipment is certified by trained individuals who have completed the annual AIB International certification program, which is open to anyone in the industry. AIB International can also send out trainers to private companies for on-site education. AIB International did investigate a third-party certification system recently, but Mr. Strouts said that option proved to be too costly and complicated to implement across the industry. Instead, AIB International will continue to rely on training people to self-certify equipment back at their respective bakery or manufacturing facility.

 

Mr. Strouts emphasized that there are also numerous resources available online. The ASNI Z50 standards are online at both www.bema.org and www.asb.org.

 

“Awareness is our biggest challenge,” Mr. Steward said, adding that bakers and suppliers need to emphasize the importance of the standards. “Input from bakers is very important, but historically, it’s been difficult to get their involvement.”

 

Dave Hipenbecker, senior director of engineering at Hostess Brands, Inc., offered a baker’s perspective, saying that the information needs to flow both ways. “We really need the help of the equipment manufacturers to get this out as well,” he said. “Start making awareness by noting the standards in their literature and ask, ‘do you want us to comply with Z50?’ And force the bakers to become aware of it and look for it.”

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