Innovation in the bar category brings its own production challenges, but food safety is still the battle being bravely fought on the production line — especially in this category where so many ingredients qualify as allergens. Equipment companies and bar producers alike consider cleanliness to be a top priority.

“The amount of allergens — specifically peanut butter, peanuts and tree nuts — exploding in this category is big,” said Dwayne Hughes, vice-president of operations, Hearthside Food Solutions, Downers Grove, IL. “Then we run many bars that don’t have those things.”

With well-known brands being produced on Hearthside’s production lines, the company has zero tolerance for anything less than perfection. The company put in place the infrastructure to support complete allergen clean-outs during changeover, and its allergen validation program ensures the equipment is free from allergens. The 5S program keeps allergenic ingredients separate from non­allergenic ones.

Equipment companies also are designing equipment to be more sanitary and easier to clean. Baker Perkins Ltd., Peterborough, UK, with US offices in Grand Rapids, MI, redesigned its bar extruders to create less debris. The residue it does produce is also now more accessible and easier to remove. The machine can be disassembled for cleaning without tools.

Reiser, Canton, MA, designs its equipment for hygiene, using all stainless steel construction and smooth surfaces to prevent residue accumulation. The Vemag machines are designed to be quickly and easily cleaned.

Most of Sollich North America’s updates to its bar system have been related to hygiene. The Miami Beach, FL-based company designs its guillotines with easy access for cleaning.