The Clean Machine: Hygiene in Food Manufacturing

Sanitation and hygiene is the foundation of good food manufacturing. Bacteria, allergies, cross-contamination – there are dozens of reasons to consider implementing good cleaning practices into your manufacturing. Some experts even recommend designing a solid sanitation plan before building a plant.

The FDA has proposed guidelines around these processes under their Preventative Controls for Human Food. In short, it requires manufacturers to identify food safety risks in their facility, and implement written preventative control measures, procedures, and processes that must be included in training modules for people working at that facility.

Effectively maintaining a food manufacturing plant with good sanitation is more than simply washing down your machines – it is a methodology based around efficiency and effectiveness. Designing your manufacturing line around hygiene not only puts your company at less risk of spreading illness, but allows you to reduce the amount of time spent cleaning your facility.

Hygiene Starts with the Right Food Manufacturing Machines

Keeping good sanitation practices starts with the equipment that is a part of your production lines. Each machine should adhere to these basic criteria:

· Materials – Whatever machines that you use should be antimicrobial and resistant to common cleaning chemicals. Soft metals tend to be ineffective, while stainless steel is used most often. Manufacturers have also begun using plastic in conveyors, as it is very easy to clean.

· Assembly and Disassembly – Machines need to be designed with assembly in mind. Not only does this make inspection and maintenance easier, but having machines that can be easily taken apart allows for a deep cleaning in places such as a machine’s vital control systems.

· Placement – For proper cleaning, machines need to be placed in areas where they can be easily accessed for both washdowns and deeper cleaning. Consider the layout of your machines. Are they conducive to easy cleaning, or is time being wasted because you can’t reach parts of it easily?

Every minute spent cleaning is a minute not spent manufacturing products. Keeping good sanitation is essential to food manufacturing, but when planned poorly, it can add hours of unproductive time spent washing down machines. For this reason, the equipment that you use is only the start of implementing effective sanitation in food manufacturing.

Effective Layouts Promote Good Sanitation

As suggested earlier, the placement of your machines is critical for easy cleaning methods. But there is more to consider than simply how your equipment is assembled on the floor.

The design of the factory building itself should be conducive to good hygiene. This includes slanted floors for water drainage, and catwalks for cleaning high areas. Layouts need to facilitate efficiency to encourage less downtime.

Hygienic Zoning

Breakouts of listeria, salmonella, and E. coli are not the only threats to food safety. Hygiene zoning is the process of separating parts of a manufacturing floor to discourage contamination between areas. This can be particularly effective not only for controlling bacterial threats, but preventing allergens from contaminating food.

As hygienic zoning is quite often a literal separation within a manufacturing floor with walls and anti-backtracking features, planning an effective layout is critical for its success. This also means implementing effective training, such as washing hands or wearing specific clothing.

The simplest way of implementing this is by designating a Primary Pathogen Control Area, or PPCA. This zone acts as a method of separating food manufacturing procedures that put employees in contact with pathogens away from those who perform steps after the food has undergone a bacterial controlling step. By dividing the steps of handling food which may be contaminated from final steps such as packaging with a physical barrier, risk is greatly diminished.

Can Hygiene in Food Manufacturing Use Automated Cleaning?

As machine automation technology revolutionizes virtually every industry (including manufacturing) companies have begun seeking out automated cleaning procedures, or Clean In Place (CIP). for their machines.

One of the greatest benefits of automated cleaning is its ability to be regularly scheduled and performed without the room for human error. While cost is a limiting factor for manufacturers looking to implement automated cleaning, a great deal of headway has been made in CIP conveyor belts.

While machine experts look to find more cost-effective ways of building automated CIP machines, effective layouts continue to be a time-saving procedure that can be implemented on any factory floor. Keeping cleaning goods easily accessible and designed to work with the flow of a manufacturing layout can shave off hours of cleaning time.

Custom Cut Metals is in the business of promoting sanitary manufacturing environments by providing state-of-the-art machines at an affordable price. Contact us today to learn more, or read more about the advances we are making in nanobubble sanitation.