The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry
experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the
overall food industry marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
Which innovations in sanitation should food manufacturers
be aware of and how do they aid in regulatory compliance,
as well as boosting consumer confidence?
Jim Oko, Director of Process Engineering, Stellar
While AMI’s 10 Principles for Sanitary Equipment Design are not an innovation, many equipment manufacturers are going above and beyond these minimum standards and offering improved surfaces, cleaning chemicals
and construction processes. As food safety regulations become increasingly complex, manufacturers are forming
in-house food safety teams to drive sanitary product design. Poor or uninformed equipment design decisions,
improper material selection and inadequate finishes pose cleaning challenges that are often the root concern of
many food safety-related issues.
The industry is rethinking the grades of stainless steel used in food processing facilities in order to withstand
the daily exposure to varying chemicals used in sanitation. Higher-end finishes often exceed regulatory requirements and provide better bacterial resistance and improved cleaning capabilities. In addition, new FDA-approved
coatings are now available that reduce the potential for raw materials to adhere to equipment surfaces which help
improve pre- and post-operational performance by providing a better barrier against bacteria colonies and the formation of bio films that are often resistant to chemicals and inferior sanitation practices.
Equipment manufacturers are also designing products with tool-less maintenance and cleaning requirements.
This eliminates the need for another product or entity to come into contact with equipment when it has to be disassembled for sanitation or
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are also becoming a critical component of plants’ sanitation programs. An ERP can help
improve audit results, reduce food safety-related incidents and investigations, improve product quality and ultimately increase operational
efficiencies. The electronic plans provided in these systems help minimize risk and manage quality control, greatly improving compliance standards. For example, the proper ERP program will provide electronic plans for conducting systematic preventive measures including Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Process Hazard Analysis (PHA). This provides better data management and superior traceability mechanisms required for compliance by minimizing the guesswork through scheduled self-audits and precise documented monitoring. ◆
Brad Polen, Sector Manager, Processed Foods, Sealed Air’s Food Care Division
As product safety remains a paramount concern for food processors, many teams are exploring new ways to refine sanitation programs
to further reduce contamination risks and comply with regulatory standards. These refinements have included using antimicrobial intervention solutions to eliminate surface contaminants before products are packaged. While such intervention solutions can be an effective sanitation component, they alone are not a food safety silver bullet.
More processors now realize that the most innovative approach to enhancing their sanitation programs and protecting their products,
Food safety programs are only as effective as the insight processors have around complete sanitation oper-
ations performance. Partners that serve as total solutions consultants, and not just suppliers, can provide vital
perspective that when combined with technological advancements (such as antimicrobial intervention solutions)
brings processors closer to the food safety silver bullet. The processors who best leverage these relationships
can not only gain confidence in their operations’ efficiency, but also peace of mind that distributed products are
as safe as possible when they reach retail customers’ shelves. ◆