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Hygiene and Hygienic Design - Key to Improved Food Safety

15 April 2013

Safety, quality and hygiene are more than ever before top priorities in the meat-processing sector.

Consumers expect and demand safe products made using perfectly hygienic methods.

Hygiene begins with the personal cleanliness of employees and their protective clothing, gloves and equipment, as well as the clear separation of personnel and production areas.

The broad spectrum of hygiene equipment to be seen at IFFA includes disinfectant basins, hand wash basins for contact-free washing and disinfecting, sole and boot cleaning machines, knife sterilisation basins, soap dispensers, waste-paper baskets and towel dispensers.

Parts of machines, conveyers and other plant components that come into contact with products must be cleaned of any product residuals sticking to them and disinfected at regular intervals.

Most of this work is still done manually, which is time consuming, expensive and not always completely reliable. Therefore, more and more users are turning to automatic CIP (Cleaning-in-Place) and SIP (Sterilizationin-Place) systems. In common with many other fields, the trend is towards robot-based processes.

However, with or without robots, the automatic cleaning systems can be adjusted to meet individual requirements and thus achieve optimum and, above all, reproducible results. In this connection, extremely precise automatic dosing systems guarantee a more efficient use of cleaning agents, which in turn helps reduce the burden on the environment, conserve resources and cut costs on the procurement and waste-disposal sides.

The cleanliness and ease with which meat-processing machines and plant can be cleaned is also a question of design. Thus, simplicity is the key principle of hygienic design (HD) and the aim is to avoid undercuts of all kinds and open seams, in which product residuals can catch and form ideal breading grounds for microorganisms.

For the same reason, open screw holes, Allen or Torx screws, etc. are not permitted. Corners and transitions must be smooth, free of joints and cleanly rounded off.

The surfaces of covers or sensor housings in spraying or wet areas should be inclined at an angle of at least three degrees to avoid any traces of water remaining on them.

Steeper gradients ensure a faster run-off and should, therefore, be used whenever possible. Additionally, it should be possible to clean all parts that come into contact with the product without having to remove them from the CIP or SIP systems.

Food processing and packing lines not based on hygienic-design principles have no future in the market because the risks and costs in terms of potential production losses, recall campaigns, recourse claims and image loss are too great.

Therefore, to invest in HD represents excellent insurance and is worthwhile in terms of both production and economic efficiency. Hygienically designed machines and plant offer none or significantly fewer opportunities for product residuals or contamination to take hold.

Fewer deposits means less cleaning effort, which in turn saves cleaning agents, water, steam and energy.

In a nutshell, hygienic demand increases the productivity of machines and plant and, against the background of growing demand for convenience food and small or individual packs generated by the increasing number of single and two-person households, this aspect is growing continuously in significance.

The changed pattern of demand has resulted in smaller batch sizes andincreased product variety for food retailers and packaging companies. In turn, this means more frequent changes of product and cleaning for the production companies.

Thus, to be able to operate profitably under these circumstances, companies must minimise the change-over and cleaning times – in other words, HD is a must.

At IFFA the meat industry exhibition in Frankfurt am Main from 4 to 9 May, trade visitors can obtain a complete overview of the latest innovations in the field of hygiene technology and future developments.

March 2013

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