As many Americans focus on improving their well-being, what is considered a healthy ingredient to one consumer could be quite dangerous to another. Because of this, snack producers must rely on sanitary design when processing better-for-you snacks that contain allergens.

Take nuts for instance.

“A perennial favorite for healthy snacking, nuts of all kinds remain very popular, and demand for them continues to grow,” said Don Giles, director of sales, processing systems, Heat and Control.

But snack manufacturers must be cognizant of products containing allergens like nuts to ensure that equipment can be cleaned thoroughly and easily … or separated altogether.

“Typically, our standard sanitation procedures are adequate for most of the new types of snacks coming on the market,” Mr. Giles said. “However, allergens are always a consideration when they are present and should not be taken lightly. Segregating different types of ingredients such as nuts and nut oils is important, and in some cases, a separate processing system may be necessary.”

PMMI’s OpEx Leadership Network — a council of C.P.G.s assembled to develop best practices for specific food processing issues — launched a set of guidelines for the sanitary design of low-moisture foods. While snack and bakery producers historically have been safe from food safety issues because of products’ low-moisture content and the kill step of the oven, today’s processing takes sanitation and sanitary design under real scrutiny.

While snack manufacturers employ rigorous food-safety protocols that include complete cleaning and swabs, equipment suppliers also design their machines to make the process that much easier.

“For all our machines, we minimize product hang-up points and flat surfaces,” said Mike Shaw, sales account ­manager, snacks/cereals, Bühler, Inc. “We provide more rounded surfaces, easy access for cleaning and ­stainless-steel construction where possible and practical. In other words, hygienic features are a top priority for our equipment design engineers.”

Clextral’s twin-screw extruders are designed with a barrel slide opening for easy access to the screws for cleaning and sanitation without taking apart the machine or removing the shafts.

“This allows the user to rapidly clean the screws and barrels with significantly less downtime for maintenance,” Mr. Coelho said.

As better-for-you snacks go mainstream, it’s important for snack producers to consider what changes their products will undergo and how they will affect the process now and into the future.

This article is an excerpt from the March 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on snack technology, click here.