In the midst of striving for efficiency, product can be left behind to mold, and allergens can linger during changeovers. As the industry experiences new regulations, sanitation matters, even when a product is dry or already cooked.
While any area an exposed finished product touches should be cleaned thoroughly, sanitation is still necessary after an item is packaged. With horizontal form/fill/seal (h/f/f/s) machines, Kelly Meer, product manager, Bosch Packaging Technology, said some regions to watch out for during cleaning are the film former before the product has been wrapped. Bosch overcomes these challenges with its harsh environment machines that take a foam-and-rinse approach to cleaning. The company introduced a harsh environment flowwrapper and robot at Pack Expo in Las Vegas this year.
Dennis Gunnell, president, Formost Fuji, said another problem area for h/f/f/s equipment involves the heaters and electronic components, which may be damaged during the washdown cleaning process. The company’s Alpha 8 Sanitary Design wrapper can be disassembled almost entirely — this includes capping off electrical wiring — so employees can sanitize, inspect and maintain easily.
Originally designed for liquid applications, Volpak America, supported by RA Jones, h/f/f/s pouching machines for bakery and snack products are easily accessible for washdown to meet regulations. The mechanisms running the machine are located behind the equipment and sealed to avoid contamination.
Cavanna Packaging’s Sanitary Design and Caustic Washdown flowwrapping system cleans similarly to how a dairy or meat plant would be cleaned.
“We’re seeing this need for that level of washdown really increasing,” said Bill Kehrli, vice-president, sales and marketing, Cavanna Packaging. “This is especially true in the bar space where there are pathogens and nuts involved.”