How to sanitize equipment
Sharif Uddin, PhD, senior process engineer, POWER Engineers
According to the US Census Bureau, the United States contains more than 38,000 firms categorized as retail bakeries or snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars. Retail bakeries control about 45% of the market, while the donut shop segment represents less than 33% and the bagel shop segment just over 6%. The snack market is highly competitive, and snack makers are now under pressure to provide even more variety and taste.
The predicted growth of the snack industry is about 20% from 2008 to 2013 with a value of $82 billion. To accommodate this market growth along with the increasingly stringent food safety requirements set by the industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s important for food manufacturers to follow sanitary equipment design standards for selection, installation and maintenance of processing and packaging equipment.
|Figure 1. Manual belt lifts on conveyors provide improved access for sanitation.
While most of the processing and packaging areas in bakery facilities are considered to be dry areas and do not require high volumes of water for cleaning, the industry is still facing a few challenges with regard to applying sanitary equipment design standards especially in the following areas: product belt conveyors, freezers, ovens, packaging equipment, room humidity control, air handling units, and equipment installation. The following provide some basic tips for choosing equipment that will likely meet requirements set forth by the Baking Industry Sanitation Standards Committee (BISSC), 3-A, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), FDA and other standards agencies.
Tip 1: Choose equipment that is easy to clean through open and accessible design. Use a common sense approach to select equipment and use this as a basis for judgment always: “If you can’t see any component of equipment and if you can’t reach it, then you can’t clean it.” Equipment must be accessible for cleaning, maintenance, inspection and sanitation. See Figure 1 for an example of a manual belt lift on a conveyor that provides improved access for sanitation.
|Figure 2. Grout is used for equipment and machinery bases. Grout offers pump ability, thermal shock, heat shock resistance and water resistance.
Equipment is a potential haven for bacteria and disease. If not designed or installed properly, equipment used for manufacturing or conveying food product can create all kinds of issues. Grouting on equipment bases could address the cleanability issue in a manufacturing facility. Legs should be designed to minimize dead spots or internal corners.
Tip 3: Equipment must be free from any collection point.
Tip 4: Ensure that there are no niches. Welds should be continuous, ground, polished and smooth.
Tip 5: Give careful consideration when specifying the surface finish on wetted parts of a mixer since cost increases significantly as the quality of the finish increases. Surface finishes address the following parameters: system cleanability, drainability, inspectability, corrosion resistance, organic buildup and acceptability.
|Figure 3. This shows equipment that had a production collection point, which compromises sanitation.
The level of sanitary design required for equipment and manufacturing facilities is always a topic of discussion. Different applications require different levels of sanitary design. The right combination of materials, surface finishes, and accessibility will drive the design and evaluation of equipment and associated systems.
Although the baking industry is traditionally a dry manufacturing environment, it is always good to stay abreast of other food manufacturing industries that often deal with wet environments. The American Meat Institute (AMI) has developed 11 basic principles of sanitary design for facilities and 10 principles of sanitary equipment design, which are widely applied in the food industry and can help the bakers as they encounter situations in which moisture may come into play.
It is always better to address sanitary equipment design at the beginning of the project and to involve your equipment manufacturers and engineering consultants up front. Establish your expectations and track them throughout the process. The bottom line is the more due diligence you put in, the safer your operation will be.
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.