Many bakers are expanding into broader food categories, but those opportunities for future sales often come with operational challenges. When it comes to cleaning, for instance, bakeries prefer to keep the process as dry as possible.

Yes, flour and water do mix, and that’s the problem. However, in operations where baked foods are topped or filled with meats and other proteins, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires these facilities to take their cleaning process to a different level.

Food manufacturers that produce handheld and other protein-filled baked foods have several options. Often these plants require daily hose down with chemicals to meet their USDA requirements. In addition, the equipment must be built to last mechanically while the electronics have to be designed to withstand the rigorous sanitation process.

Specifically, equipment must be designed with fully washdown with smooth, accessible surfaces that withstands high-pressure cleaning. Bakers and food manufacturers must pay attention to tooling and component sanitation. One small mistake can result in a recall. Sanitary designed equipment also must eliminate harboring of bacteria or debris as needed.

Additionally, recently designed plants are now separating the operation between raw and cooked products to prevent contamination. That’s not only in USDA-inspected facilities, but also in gluten-free operations and other plants with allergens. Because USDA requires wet cleaning, often using chemicals, makeup lines are typically made with more expensive 316 stainless steel and high IP 67, 69 or 69K electrical components.

By following these basic rules, bakers and food manufacturers can proudly say they’re “made in a USDA” facility.