Guest Columns

Food Safety

The principles of sanitary design: Proactively approaching food safety

Paul Krechel

Paul Krechel, market manager with Deville Technologies, specializes in cutting technology for the protein and dairy Industries. His expertise and experience is centered on industry trends within the realm of sanitation and niche applications. He contributes this column exclusively for Cheese Market News®.

As 2018 comes to an end, we as members of the food industry can reflect on a year of successes and, as always, opportunities for improvement in the year to come.

In dairy plant environments, the opportunity for companies to create a safer and more hygienic environment has become a focal point not only for public health, but also as a mandate for best business practices.

When our dairy and food industry is confronted with the ramifications of poor sanitation and safety, the adverse effects are costly and felt throughout the business manifesting through brand tarnishing, plant shut downs, and health effects on citizens of both the United States and abroad.

In light of this, as we look to improve our plant environments in 2019, we should ask ourselves: How do we move from being reactive to proactive and establish a culture of good sanitary and safe practices?

We start the conversation within our production facilities, by reviewing our current equipment and our sanitary protocols. To do this we turn to the industry resource of the 10 Principles of Sanitary Design:

1. Cleanable to a microbiological level

All plant equipment must be constructed to allow effective cleaning throughout its lifespan. Equipment design should discourage the growth and reproduction of microorganisms on all contact and non-contact surfaces.

2. Made of compatible materials

Not all surfaces are impervious to the materials they are exposed to. This is important to understand when it comes to designing processing equipment. Some caustics may cause corrosion or pitting when applied to certain materials. Over time, this can create harborage areas for microorganisms. Where possible, corrosion resistant materials should be used.

3. Inspection, maintenance and sanitation accessibility

It has been said that “If you can’t see it and you can’t touch it, then you can’t clean it.” Put simply, if you are working with a non-CIP environment, you need to be able to clean everything. Having equipment that is fully accessible will allow your sanitation team to properly and safely sanitize your equipment, following the established procedures.

4. No product or liquid collection

Processing equipment should not harbor an environment where product can collect and eventually dry out. When this happens, you risk contaminating the batch with foreign particles. Alternatively, considering that moisture increases the risk of microbial growth, plants should avoid equipment that allows for standing water (e.g., flat surfaces). This is important because standing water is a breeding ground for undesirable microorganisms, which can lead to possible recalls.

Your equipment should not have choke points due to product build up and heating, but instead, encourage free movement of product throughout operation.

5. Hollow areas must be hermetically sealed

Although the Food Safety Modernization Act somewhat frowns upon the usage of hollow tubing, most equipment frames are tubular. To reach a best practice standard, it must be ensured that all hollow tubing is completely sealed. Any penetration or puncturing of hollow tubing can allow microorganisms to grow and is a space for moisture or food soil to collect, which might lead to future contamination in the plant. Even something as simple as a name plate with pop-rivets has the potential to compromise plant safety. Conscious manufacturers will ensure that all hollow areas are sealed with continuous welds throughout. Whenever possible, solid frame designs should be considered.

6. No niches

Food processing equipment should not have any harborage points. Anything ranging from plate-to-plate contact, non-continuous or unpolished welds, lap seams or bolt rivets are an excellent place for food soil to collect and contaminate your plant. As with hollow areas, conscious manufacturers will design and build their machinery with continuous welds and sanitary polishes (No. 4 Sanitary Finish, 32RA) throughout.

7. Sanitary operational performance

As examined in Principle 4, processors want to avoid increased microbial counts during machine operation. This is an opportunity for plant operations to collaborate with equipment manufacturers to create a primary focus of building equipment that reduces the amount of moisture and product accumulation.

8. Hygienic design of maintenance enclosures

It is inevitable: Your machinery will need to be serviced throughout its lifetime. In reality, and depending on the type of equipment, it will likely happen more often than desired. Nevertheless, plant machinery needs to be serviceable but without contamination risks. Even if oils and lubricants that are safe for food applications are used, processors would prefer to not have them leak into the finished product. Designing and building machines containing drive zones that are enclosed and separate from product zones is an opportunity to solve this issue.

9. Hygienic compatibility with plant systems

This responsibility falls at an even 50/50 split between the manufacturer of equipment and the processor. All equipment must be built to be usable with existing plants systems (air, steam, water etc.).

10. Validate cleaning and sanitary protocols

Considering all nine principles, Principle Ten encompasses that all processors must have a tried, tested and true procedure when it comes to plant sanitation. Cleaning procedures must be clear, concise and use caustics that are compatible not just with the plant environment. As manufacturers of equipment, it is our responsibility to create sanitary products with a focus on ease of cleaning.

As the worldwide demand for dairy increases, our production facilities must respond by developing better automation, equipment and facilities. There is no better time than the present to review and enforce the principles developed to protect not only our consumers, but also crucial businesses within our industry. For all of us involved in the dairy and larger food industry, let us take the time in 2019 to consider the impact our production facilities, and the equipment contained within them, have on our consumers and businesses.


The views expressed by CMN’s guest columnists are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Market News®.

CMN article search

© 2019 Cheese Market News • Quarne Publishing, LLC • Legal InformationOnline Privacy PolicyTerms and Conditions
Cheese Market News • Business/Advertising Office: P.O. Box 628254 • Middleton, WI 53562 • 608/831-6002
Cheese Market News • Editorial Office: 5315 Wall Street, Suite 100 • Madison, WI 53718 • 608/288-9090