A judge’s reputation affects the credibility of the judgement. So it is with certification standards. A known gets more acceptance than an unknown.

Audit standards like GFSI or ISO carry an implicit “nameplate authority” when it comes to judging the food safety aspects of processing operations. Among bakers, the Baking Industry Sanitation Standards Committee (BISSC) was the standard for sanitary equipment design. Not so among public health agencies.

“There is a lot of machinery out there carrying the BISSC certification symbol, but most local and state sanitation officials don’t know BISSC,” said Philip Domenicucci, baking systems specialist, AMF Bakery Systems, and vice-chairman of the American Society of Baking’s (ASB) Z50 committee. “However, they do know ANSI.”

In 2001, BEMA was approached by the National Sanitation Foundation to help create a new bakery equipment standard. Not wanting to lose control of its own sanitation standard and enforcement, BEMA decided instead to rewrite BISSC into a version acceptable to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and have the existing ASB Z50 committee manage it. ANSI standards reflect best industry practice and are typically written by the industry through a balanced committee of equipment manufacturers, bakers and allied members. BISSC was disbanded in 2003.

The result was a set of equipment design standards covering both safety and sanitation. First published in 2003 and since revised in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, the Z50 standards consists of ANSI/ASB/Z50.1-2016 Safety Requirements for Bakery Equipment and ANSI/ASB/Z50.2-2015 Bakery Equipment Sanitation Requirements.

“Safety refers to the safe operation of the equipment,” Mr. Domenicucci explained. “For equipment manufacturers, it is the key to limiting liability. When a machine, built to approved standards like those written under ANSI criteria, is delivered to the customer, it becomes the responsibility of the end user to maintain the equipment in safe, clean and sanitary condition. Until the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules arrived, there wasn’t the same pressure on the sanitation side.”

Would having ANSI Z50 certificates for a bakery’s processing equipment make a difference when being inspected for compliance with FSMA? “The short answer is yes,” Mr. Domenicucci said. “At the very least, the baker would have a record of the machine being built to recognizable sanitation standards that could be shown to the inspector.

“Speaking for the committee, there needs to be better use of the Z50.1 and Z50.2 standards,” he added. “In an ideal world, the baker’s bid request would reference both. As equipment manufacturers, we can design and build equipment to these high standards, but the baker must understand that it comes at a cost.”