The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts
sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
What factors are most likely to present food safety
challenges to feeding systems, and how can food
processors mitigate these dangers?
Vibratory feeders have been used in the food processing industry for several decades to efficiently move food
ingredients that tend to pack, cake, smear, break apart or fluidize. Feeders often are used to meter precise amounts
of product from hoppers and to gently deposit them on a conveyor bucket elevator or a packaging machine.
The challenge is maintaining food safety guidelines and protecting product purity while efficiently metering various types of ingredients, from bulk foods and powders to leafy and fluffy materials.
Electromagnetic feeders have long been a popular, trouble-free way to meter and convey bulk materials and powders. However, with
the development of high deflection (HD) electromagnetic feeders, metering fine powders and leafy and fluffy ingredients is no longer
problematic. These newer HD feeders feature feed rates of up to 80 feet per minute ( 24 m/min).
Advantages in technology have made vibratory feeders a more sanitary option for applications where belt conveyors may have been
used in the past. No rotating parts, belts or lubrication are required.
Don’t forget feeder trays and their importance to food safety. Trays can be designed for easy cleanout to avoid cross contamination
of materials and decreased production line downtime.
Vibratory feeders have undergone numerous design changes and upgrades that enhance their role in food manufacturing. The latest
equipment offers increased energy savings, more precise control over material flow, easier maintenance, a variety of safety options,
One of the most important factors that can present food safety challenges is the overall execution with regards to san-
itary or hygienic design. Cleanability of the feeding equipment, whether via screw feeding, rotary valves, weigh belts or
vibratory trays is an important consideration which must be discussed in depth with the feeding system supplier. Feeder
designs can be available with a variety of integral design options that address overall cleanability as well as accessibility
for the prevention of both bacterial and product contamination.
Many food manufacturers are developing or utlizing cleaning protocols which avoid any wet cleaning. In these cases,
feeding systems that include interchangeable product contact modules with quick disconnect clamps that allow for quick
and easy changeover between product runs may be a viable option. The feeder should also be equipped with readily accessible
components. In those cases, options such as swing away hoppers or complete feeders on rails should be discussed. Design options,
including those outlined below, can also be included in the overall feed design to make the system easier to clean and maintain:
• Fully welded and ground weld seams
• Smooth surface areas, ground to specific surface roughness requirements
• Frames constructed of stainless steel with minimal or no penetrations for elimination of possible bacterial contamination
• Standoffs between equipment frames and brackets, junction boxes and control units
• Cables and conduits with grids and special magnetic cable ties
• Use of antimicrobial belts where applicable
• Purged shaft seals when applicable, to prevent ingress of material to the bearing/seal area
• Elastomers and materials in contact with the product of FDA approved construction
It is imperative that early in the equipment design process, during the request for quote and project definition stages, open commu-
nication occurs between the food manufacturer and feed system supplier to discuss all options available for cleaning and product con-