The meat and poultry industry is the largest segment of U.S. agriculture, with sales totaling $186 billion in 2014¹. To minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses and brand-damaging product recalls, it is vital to prevent the growth and spread of microbiological contamination in meat and poultry processing plants. However, although the importance of following good hygiene practices may seem obvious, serious food problems continue to hit the headlines, for example salmonella in chicken products.
Meat inspection equipment with an IP69 rating can help to reduce the risk of microbiological contamination of products by enabling equipment to withstand rigorous high-pressure, high-temperature washdown procedures, but is single-handedly not enough to prevent contamination.
This article explains how sanitary designed product inspection equipment is also essential to reducing bacterial contamination and outlines why the two together create the best combination for sanitation and overall food safety by following the 10 Principles of Sanitary Design.
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1. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
2. Why is Sanitary Design Critical?
Every year about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick from foodborne diseases, according to recent data for Disease Control and Prevention².
Microbiological bacteria cause approximately 90% of all foodborne illnesses. Bacteria that cause human illnesses, including disease, are termed pathogenic and those most likely to be found in commonly-slaughtered livestock and poultry include Salmonella, Listeria and E-coli.
Listeria is the most commonly found bacteria in the meat and poultry industry. 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. Equipment that has an IP69 rating ensures a high degree of protection against liquids or products that could cultivate bacteria in these common pieces.
However, sanitary design takes this protection one step further by outlining all the elements needed to create the most hygenically clean environment possible for food inspection systems. It’s crucial that meat inspection equipment is designed and constructed with sanitary principles in mind to prevent biological contamination for either meat or poultry products.
3. X-ray System Benefits for Meat & Poultry Plants
As product recalls continue to escalate and food safety laws become increasingly strict, it’s important that all product inspection equipment used in the meat and poultry industry not only performs well, but is designed to prevent bacterial growth and promote proper cleaning.
Market-leading fat analysis and x-ray inspection equipment, are available with IP69 rating, enabling them to withstand the meat and poultry industry’s rigorous, high-temperature, high-pressure wash down procedures, but they are also hygienically designed in line with the 10 Principles of Sanitary Design.
Eagle’s line of x-ray meat inspection 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. The RMI3, FA3 and Pack 400 HC inspect raw beef, pork, chicken or lamb in a range of applications such as packaged, unpackaged bulk, open crates and cartons. They have a robust construction with thicker stainless steel plates that are cut and welded together, rather than bolted in order to eliminate food debris collection points.
Meat and poultry plants can minimize the risk of pathological contamination and enhance food safety by installing this type of equipment which is also capable of detecting and removing foreign body contaminants such as metal or glass and even bone fragments. Additionally, Eagle’s meat inspection solutions optimize production processes and help you produce high quality products consistently.
Kyle Thomas, Strategic Business Unit (SBU) Manager at Eagle Product Inspection