When attending the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) Sept. 7-11 in Las Vegas, I advise you to look for something very important: BISSC certification on equipment. BISSC, which stands for Baking Industry Sanitation Standards Committee, is a set of criteria that are maintained by a dedicated group of industry professionals at the American Society of Baking. The standards describe construction and design criteria for baking equipment, including a general standard — as well as more specific standards — for more than 40 specific types of bakery equipment. Why is this important? It will save time and reduce the risk of owning, operating, maintaining and cleaning a piece of equipment.

The BISSC standard describes critical details such as the size, shape and smoothness of a steel weld in the corner of a piece of equipment. This will be important as you operate and clean the equipment. An improper weld could fatigue, crack and fail during operation or be more difficult to clean, thus creating a food safety risk. Designing equipment to be cleanable is a significant focus of BISSC.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) requires that in order to achieve food safety certification, the equipment in a manufacturing facility must be certified to meet an industry standard. While there are several applicable standard-writing bodies in existence, BISSC is specific to the baking industry. Knowing that a piece of equipment is BISSC-certified tells the GFSI auditor that the equipment has been designed and built with food safety and cleanability in mind.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) doesn’t prescribe that food equipment be certified to any standard, but the fact that it is will save time and reduce risk. FSMA requires a food safety plan based on a comprehensive risk assessment. Risks must be identified and assessed with adequate controls put into place. There must also be a documented procedure for cleaning the equipment, verifying each time that the procedure was executed properly and validating at least every three years that the procedure is effective. BISSC-certified equipment is designed to ensure it is possible to clean a piece of equipment and inspect to verify that it actually is clean.

This certification eliminates the hidden risks inside equipment that we cannot inspect. A real-world example is a segmented metal seal on a mixer bearing that breaks apart after years of operation, releasing metal fragments into the mixer contents. BISSC doesn’t allow that kind of segmented bearing design.

Consider as well that equipment installed today could likely be in operation for 30 years or more, and whatever risks or failings built into that equipment will be there for a long time to come.

Enjoy IBIE, and use BISSC as a metric to ensure that baking equipment is designed and built for safety and sanitation.

Len Heflich is a contributing editor for Baking & Snack and the president of Innovation for Success. Connect with Mr. Heflich at heflichfoodsafety@gmail.com.