Hygienic Design Delivers Cleanliness and Compliance
August 10, 2020
In food and beverage production facilities around the world, cleaning and sanitization are just as vital to an organization’s success as the taste and texture of the products they produce.
Although cleaning adds no direct value to a product, the cost of failing to do it properly can be enormous, both in terms of company reputation, and the risk of spreading potentially deadly illnesses. Even when working hard to operate in compliance with the strictest standards, food and beverage producers are forced to recall thousands of products each year, typically for one of three reasons: undeclared allergens (presence of milk, wheat, peanuts or soy which don’t appear on the label), pathogens (E.coli, salmonella or listeria), or physical contamination.
All food and beverage processors are affected by increasingly stringent food safety standards. These standards are contained in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the United States, which is considered the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in over 70 years. FSMA affects almost everyone involved in the North American food supply chain, from manufacturers to shippers to retailers.
Sanitation design is critical to all food and beverage processing operations, but especially to those handling dairy, meat, and poultry products because cultures and other organisms can easily contaminate other products processed using the same line. Preventing outbreaks of food-borne illnesses demands that processors establish and follow comprehensive cleaning and sanitation protocols, and schedules. However, although cleaning is crucial, it tends to be extremely time consuming. It has been estimated that, on average, 20 per cent of a food and beverage plant’s day is spent cleaning equipment.
Every surface in a processing line requires regular decontamination, even those that might seem unlikely to come into direct contact with product, such as wall-mount housings and free-standing enclosures that protect the line’s mechanical and electrical control equipment.
In order to withstand harsh cleaning chemicals, high-pressure hot water, and steam, often required for disinfection, a growing number of mechanical engineers and plant operators are specifying stainless steel housings and enclosures for their facilities, which are designed to prevent corrosion from frequent washdowns and allow for shorter cleaning times while using less water and fewer chemicals.
SOLVING THE DISINFECTION DILEMMA
The most productive enclosure designs for the food and beverage industry allow for thorough disinfection without requiring extended scrubbing or expensive chemicals.
Important features to look for when choosing stainless steel housings and enclosures are:
• No gaps between the enclosure and its door or cover. For example, continuous silicone seal door gaskets will help prevent the intrusion of water, steam, or contaminants, and can be easily replaced when worn.
• A smooth surface grain that eliminates tiny pores that could harbour micro-organisms.
• Internal hinges mounted inside the sealed zone to simplify cleaning.
• An integrated, non-detachable rear panel to guarantee reliable hygiene and sealing in an area that is difficult to monitor.
• Side panels that are screw-fastened from the inside to eliminate threads or other crevices that could harbour dirt or bacteria.
• Hexagonal screw fasteners without the head slots that could allow debris to collect, and with external seals to keep moisture out of the enclosure.
• Easy-to-clean stainless-steel locks and cable glands.
• Sloped tops and sealed access points to prevent water or cleaning agent infiltration that could result in electrical failure, unscheduled downtime, and expensive repairs.
• An ingress protection (IP) rating that is consistent with the line’s cleaning protocol. Common IP ratings for food and beverage applications include IP 66 (dust tight and protected from high pressure water jets from any direction), and IP 69K (dust tight and protected from steam-jet cleaning).
Article was provided by Rittal Canada.