Improve Food Safety with Hygienic Design for Industrial Equipment

Poultry, Red Meat
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1 in 6 Americans get sick every year from food borne diseases, according to the CDC1. That’s 48 million of us, and 90% of all food borne illnesses are caused by microbiological bacteria2. To minimize the risk of consumer sickness and brand-damaging company recalls, it’s vital to prevent the growth and spread of microbiological contamination in manufacturing and processing plants.

Although the importance of following good hygiene practices may seem obvious, serious food problems continue to hit the headlines, for example, salmonella in uncured antipasto meat products. Inspection equipment with strong ingress protection can help equipment withstand the rigorous high-pressure, high-temperature washdown process, but there is much more involved with designing sanitary equipment.1

This article explains the difference between Ingress Protection ratings and hygienic design, and why they are not mutually exclusive.  It also details why the hygienic design of industrial food equipment, according to the 10 Principles of Sanitary Design, is critical to contamination reduction and overall food safety.

The Difference between IP69 Rating & Hygienic Design

The Ingress Protection (IP) rating system is an internationally recognized scale that relates to proven protection against environmental factors such as liquids and solids. Ingress Protection ratings can be identified by the letters IP, followed by two numbers. These numbers define the amount of protection a piece of equipment has against specified elements and its ability to resist foreign matter that could otherwise get inside the equipment and cause it to fail.

The first number refers to the amount of protection an enclosure has against solid matter, such as dust particles, while the second number defines the level of protection against liquids. The higher the number, the greater the protection. With this rating system, IP69 is the highest protection rating available. It provides protection against ingress of dust and high-temperature, high-pressure water. This certification is ideal for use in plants where equipment must be durable. However, it is not to be confused with hygienic design and it is not optional in these environments.

Hygienic design takes food safety to the next level and is much more than just the ingress protection rating. Market-leading inspection equipment is available which is both built according to sanitary design and comes with IP69 rating as a standard. This allows the machinery to withstand the rigorous high-pressure, high-temperature washdown process while minimizing the risk of microbiological contamination.

10 Principles of Sanitary Design

The idea of ‘sanitary design’ was developed by the Equipment Design Task Force (EDTF) of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) in 2002, and encompasses the 10 Principles of Sanitary Design originally aimed at improving food safety by reducing the contamination risk from Listeria in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. The principles are:

1. Cleanable to a microbiological level: Food equipment must be constructed to ensure effective and efficient cleaning over its lifespan. Equipment should be designed to prevent bacterial ingress, survival, growth and reproduction on both product and non-product contact surfaces.

2. Made of compatible materials: Construction materials used for product inspection equipment should be completely compatible with the product, environment, cleaning and sanitizing chemicals, as well as the methods of cleaning and sanitation.

FA3 belt for Red Meat Inspection
FA3 Belt for Red Meat Inspection

3. Accessible for inspection, maintenance, cleaning and sanitation: All parts of the equipment should be readily accessible for inspection, maintenance, cleaning and sanitation without the use of tools.

Pack 400 HC Easy Access Washdown

4. No product or liquid collection: Equipment should be self-draining to ensure that liquid, which can harbor and promote the growth of bacteria, doesn’t accumulate, pool or condense on the equipment.

Equipment should be self-draining.
Framework should be rounded or inclined at 45 degrees.

5. Hollow areas should be hermetically sealed: Hollow areas of meat inspection equipment such as frames and rollers should be eliminated, whenever possible, or permanently sealed. Bolts, studs, mounting plates, brackets, junction boxes, nameplates, end caps, sleeves and other such items should be continuously welded to the surface, not attached via drilled and tapped holes.

Leg adjustments are external
Avoid using hollow sections

6. No niches: Equipment parts should be free of niches such as pits, cracks, corrosion, recesses, open seams, gaps, lap seams, protruding ledges, inside threads, bolt rivets and dead ends.

Welds are continuous and smooth

7. Sanitary operational performance: During normal operations, the equipment must perform so it doesn’t contribute to unsanitary conditions or the harborage and growth of bacteria.

8. Hygienic design of maintenance enclosures: Maintenance enclosures and human machine interfaces (HMIs) such as push buttons, valve handles, switches and touchscreens should be designed to ensure food product, water or product liquid doesn’t penetrate or accumulate in or on the enclosure or interface. What’s more, the physical design of the enclosures should be sloped or pitched to avoid use as a storage area.

9. Hygienic compatibility with other plant systems: Product inspection equipment should be designed to ensure hygienic compatibility with other equipment and systems, such as electrical, hydraulics, steam, air and water.

10. Validate cleaning and sanitizing protocols: Procedures for cleaning and sanitation must be clearly written, designed and proven to be effective and efficient. Chemicals recommended for cleaning and sanitation must be compatible with the equipment and the manufacturing environment.

Why is Hygienically Constructed Equipment Critical?

Foodborne illnesses can cause sickness, hospitalization and even death. Every year approximately 3000 people in the United States die of a foodborne disease1. Bacteria that cause human illness is called pathogenic, and those most likely found in food products are Salmonella, Listeria and E-coli.

In fact, Listeria is the most commonly found bacteria in the meat and poultry industries. When sanitation practices are insufficient, Listeria can harbor and thrive in many common pieces of equipment used in meat processing plants, such as conveyor belts, slicers, dicers and peelers. Machinery used for packaging products may also harbor and transfer bacteria to products.

However, red meat and poultry products aren’t the only food items that carry bacteria. Foodborne outbreaks have been linked to many different types of contaminated food such as fruits and vegetables, raw dairy products, seafood and processed foods like flour, cereal and peanut butter.

Hygienically constructed equipment ensures a high degree of protection against liquids or products that could cultivate bacteria in machinery parts. It’s crucial that equipment is designed and constructed with sanitary principles in mind to prevent biological contamination for all products.

Benefits of Hygienically Designed X-ray Inspection Machines

As product recalls continue to escalate and food safety laws become increasingly strict, it’s important that all food inspection equipment used in harsh washdown industries not only performs well, but is designed to prevent bacterial growth and promote proper cleaning.

Processing plants can minimize the risk of pathological contamination and increase food safety with hygienically constructed x-ray inspection equipment. This equipment enhances food safety because it detects and removes foreign body contaminants, conducts simultaneous quality checks all while offering faster and easier cleaning and sanitation duties to keep lines running longer for greater output. X-ray inspection solutions optimize production processes and help produce safe, high-quality products consistently and reliably.

Eagle’s hygienically designed line of x-ray machines are built with these principles in mind including an IP69 rating, making them better suited to stand up against harsh environments for a longer life span with less wear-down and maintenance. These machines inspect raw products like beef, chicken or seafood in a wide range of applications such as packaged, unpackaged bulk, open crates and cartons. The machines have a robust construction and are designed and constructed using the ten principles of hygienic design to help protect consumers and food processors. Contact us if you’d like to speak to an Eagle expert about your application.



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