No industry values sanitation quite as much as the food industry. From growing food to preparing it for the table, standards of sanitation not only ensure a quality product but the safety and health of those who will consume it as well. That is why there are such high sanitary equipment standards for food processing and why we must make every effort to meet them when it comes to the way we design and take care of food processing equipment.
There are two types of surfaces when it comes to food processing equipment: surfaces that have direct contact with food and surfaces that are part of the equipment but do not touch food. While both need to be kept as sanitary as possible, each has its own standard of cleanliness that must be adhered to.
Because these surfaces directly touch food, these surfaces have more specific design standards to ensure hygiene. Product-contact surfaces must be able to endure the rigors of food processing without breaking or cracking, which will create pockets where bacteria can thrive. They must also be able to have contact with food and cleaning materials without reacting to or absorbing them. They should also be durable, non-corrosive, non-toxic, and easy to clean.
There are a number of recommended materials that facilities can use that meet all these standards, but none meets them quite as well as stainless steel. That’s why here at Cedarstone, we use it to build our mixing tanks and food-grade IBC totes.
Non-Product Contact Surfaces
Even though—by definition—non-product contact surfaces don’t touch the food, not practicing proper sanitation of these surfaces can lead to food contamination. Because of that, areas such as the outside of the tank and the legs and support beams of machinery should also be built out of noncorrosive, nonreactive material that can be easily cleaned.
It is not only what a machine is constructed of but how it is constructed that determines how readily it can be kept clean. Equipment should be created without sharp angles that make the tanks harder to clean and create space where old food can get stuck. This problem can also be prevented by modeling equipment to be self-draining.
Facilities also need to set up their equipment in such a way that makes it possible to clean the area around it. This may include elevating machines or spreading machines out in a facility so the area under and between machines is accessible. Machinery should also be ordered and arranged in a facility to ensure there is no cross-contamination between different food products.
As an industry professional, having high standards for products means having high standards for food processing equipment sanitation. This one step will help ensure your facility run smoothly and produces food that can be enjoyed safely by consumers.