Canada Bread’s Hamilton, Ont., bakery packaging room is walled off from other areas of the plant and maintained at slightly higher air pressure.

How clean will bakeries have to become, once regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act go fully into effect this coming September? Very clean indeed, and that goes for packaging operations, too, according to an expert at Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, a civil engineering firm with a large food industry practice.

The company recently hosted the Kansas City section of the Institute of Food Technologists for a review of how food safety affects the design and operation of food manufacturing facilities. After hearing about the potential of airborne contaminants to move through heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, 1 of the 60 attendees asked about bakeries that commonly move finished products through ambient cooling between the oven — a known kill step for controlling pathogens — and packaging operations.

Richard D. Wiehe, PE, senior associate mechanical engineer, fielded that question, saying that such goods “will need to exit to a clean area.” He defined “clean” in terms of physical isolation and air movement, in particular, building pressurization protocols. Keeping the packaging area at higher air pressure prevents the entry of outside air, even if the “outside” is just a different part of the bakery.

Baking & Snackeditors saw that in action a few years ago when touring Canada Bread’s Hamilton, Ont., bakery. Its packaging room was walled off from other areas of the plant and maintained at slightly higher air pressure. The company also required anyone entering the packaging room to first go through hygienic procedures. Canada Bread, now part of Grupo Bimbo, effectively combined good facility design with good personnel practices.