How will regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (F.S.M.A.) affect the design and engineering of bakery equipment? The act’s preventive control rules, now being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration, will be mandatory for the food processing industry, including bakeries.

Joe Stout, Baking & Snack contributing editor, said equipment design, although not regulated at the equipment manufacturer (O.E.M.) level by the F.D.A., is clearly the responsibility of the food processor being regulated. Think of it this way: If and when things go bad on a given Friday afternoon, Mr. Stout observed, the F.D.A. will not pursue the O.E.M. if an issue is the result of poor equipment design. Instead, it will look to the processor who decided to purchase equipment that was not suitable or, worse yet, not cleanable.

To be honest, he added, it will be hard to gain relief for judgments involving poor equipment design because it is the processors’ responsibility to know the profile and risks of the products they make and monitor all food safety parameters including equipment design. This just brings it back to food manufacturers as the responsible entities.

A key learning here is that processors should buy well-designed, easily cleaned equipment and maintain it in sanitary condition through good programmed cleaning and maintenance. Mr. Stout’s conclusion? Yes, F.S.M.A. will impact equipment design — at the request of the processors who essentially “own” the design of the equipment they choose to use.

See his latest observations in the May issue of Baking & Snack magazine.