Sometimes the worst nightmare can be the biggest wake-up call. That certainly became the case five years ago when Peanut Corp. of America dragged bakers and other food processors into a major Salmonella outbreak. That incident plus episodes of contaminated produce helped birth the Food Safety Modernization Act.

In baking, these concerns also played out in a revised standard for the sanitary design of baking equipment, namely ANSI/ASB/Z50.2-2012. Certainly, the baking industry has come a long way in recent years in addressing food safety, but sanitary design has upfront costs. But as with sustainability initiatives, the initial investment can yield long-term gains in return on investment (R.O.I.).

“The key is to look at the holistic R.O.I. by looking at the operational cost reductions over the life of the equipment,” said Jennifer Frankenberg, vice-president, Sage Food Safety Consultants, Cincinnati, which helped spearhead the rewrite and updating of the standard. “With proper sanitary design, time needed for cleaning results in less downtime, and you generate greater efficiencies and less waste. You also extend the useful life of the equipment, spreading your operational cost reductions out for a longer period of time.”

What keeps you awake at night? Sanitary design can help keep your mind at rest.