Market trends impact ingredient handling equipment choices

by Laurie Gorton
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Sometimes, market trends complicate ingredient handling. Consider the issues raised by gluten-free and high-protein formulas.

Gluten-free flours are routinely lighter and less dense than wheat flour, and their dusts present greater risks than conventional flour.

“Some starches have high KsT ratings, which measure the energy released when explosions happen,” said John Hunter, sales account manager, value-added products, Bühler. “When you scale ingredients manually, you don’t realize these risks exist, but when moving them about automatically, you have to give consideration to these hazards.”

Kevin Pecha, sales manager, food, AZO, cited the explosion hazard, too.

“New codes and regulations are placing owners in a different and uncomfortable position in regard to these hazards as well as compliance with record keeping,” he said.

Storage conditions differ.

“Specialty flours may require custom negative or positive pressure systems, more or less conveying horsepower, specialty sifters or any number of system adjustments that permit effective handling,” said James Toole, product manager, bulk handling systems, KB Systems.

Lisa Arato, application engineering manager, Zeppelin Systems USA, observed, “Equipment sizes and volumes will be larger for gluten-free than when using a conventional flour, as will selection of discharge aides.”

When protein enters the picture, things get tricky.

“Stickiness is particularly true of ingredients high in protein,” said Jason Stricker, executive account manager, Shick USA, “and many other ingredients will present challenges in automation.”

In a plant that makes both regular and gluten-free baked foods, avoiding cross-contamination when conveying ingredients can be difficult unless completely separate lines are used.

“You have to figure out how to segregate the gluten-free area to manage the risk of cross-contamination,” Mr. Hunter said.

Isolation of this sort is needed for organic and non-GMO ingredients, too. Having separate systems “adds to the space constraints most bakeries face,” added Aaron Irvin, director of systems and products, Shick USA.
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