This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Stainless steel belting improves hygiene standards

12 February 2015


Use of stainless steel Flat-Flex® and Compact Grid™ belting instead of modular plastic types can increase food conveyor hygiene standards by at least 10 times, and in some cases by more than 100 times.

Research in the UK and USA shows that, under production conditions, Wire Belt’s Flat-Flex belting is more hygienic than plastic types for conveying vegetables, meat and fish. This shows that stainless steel is preferable to plastic where hygiene and ease of sanitation are important, especially in areas where accessibility and extended production runs present cleaning problems.

Openness of the Flat-Flex results in less build-up of contaminants than plastic modular belts, as well as making cleaning easier and allowing visual inspection of drive shafts without the need for dismantling. The advantages of stainless steel over plastic for belting include easier and more effective cleaning as well as greater resistance to damage resulting in scratches and crevices that can lead to increased opportunities for attachment and growth of bacteria.

Research in the UK shows that with fish and meat Flat-Flex picks up fewer bacteria, maintains a lower level of contamination over time and is easier to sanitise, possibly because the gaps in plastic modular belting cannot be as readily cleaned as the stainless steel belting and harbour bacteria with quicker recontamination of the belt as a consequence. Drive shafts and the undersides of plastic modular belting are particularly difficult to clean in comparison with Flat-Flex belting.

Experiments with meat and fish also showed that plastic modular belting tended to contain trapped debris, even after thorough sanitising and rinsing. Experiments with carrots showed that Flat-Flex could usually be cleaned to a satisfactory level with just one clean but plastic modular belting often required a second or even third clean to reach a standard acceptable for production to start.


The increasingly rapid growth in bacteria on plastic modular belting compared with Flat-Flex stainless steel belting, especially after two hours, is shown by results of the study with chicken meat (Fig 1) after sanitisation with Multikleen.

In the USA, where Flat-Flex is approved by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), research shows that, with proper cleaning and sanitising schedules, stainless steel belting reduces the problems of biofilms forming on product contact and non-contact surfaces. Consisting of microbes and substances that protect them from surrounding environments, biofilms can harbour potentially dangerous pathogens and create reservoirs of contaminants that are very difficult to eradicate completely. Once a biofilm is established, bacteria living within it can withstand stronger doses of sanitising agent – up to 3000 times stronger than unattached cells – and are more resistant to heat. Bacteria can also be loosened and contaminate product flowing over the biofilms.

Design features of Flat-Flex and Compact Grid help to eliminate the crevices and hard-to-reach places where biofilms form, and also help to improve hygiene levels generally, especially in high-usage and difficult-to-clean areas of conveyor belting. They have between 70 and 85 per cent open framework structure, are designed to reduce or eliminate areas where product or debris can become lodged and do not typically need to be removed from the conveyor system for cleaning. 

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page


Article image Conveyor range gains 3-A qualification

FlexLink continuously reviews its conveyor range to ensure that the latest designs adhere to the most up to date guidelines laid down by EHEDG and 3-A Sanitary Standards. The company’s development team recently went through the process of 3-A qualification, with part of the WLX conveyor range being qualified to 3-A standard 75-01 which covers the handling of dry food products, bread, cakes, pies and frozen food produce. Full Story...

Article image Safely moving product between low and high-care areas

Food Processing reports on a conveyor solution which solves the problem of transferring product between low care and high care areas. Full Story...

Denipro’s standard deniway now as an accumulating conveyor

Spiroflow's conveying equipment ensures instant (cofffee) benefits

Innovative Solutions from Wire Belt for Tough Conveyor Challenges


Article image Denipro’s standard deniway now as an accumulating conveyor

The creativity of the Denipro engineers and their potential for innovation is demonstrated by the new roller elements, simply set into Deniway select’s plates, allowing selective accumulation and reacceleration of the transported items. Full Story...

Article image NEW - Interroll Light Industrial Belt Conveyor

Interroll announces the launch of its new Light Industrial Belt Conveyor that can be offered at a highly competitive price. The compact unit incorporates proven energy efficient technology, with a choice of drum motor of dia.80mm or dia.113mm - providing reliable, maintenance free belt conveyor drive.Full Story...


Article image Spray and save on the glazing process

Food glazes are widely used in the bakery sector to improve the look and taste of baked products. Traditionally, this coating process has resulted in substantial waste. Technology advances mean that this is no longer the case. Full Story...

Article image Your flexible friend in the food factory

Suzanne Gill finds out where thermal imaging technology can help around the factory. Full Story...

Self diagnostics: an enabler for predictive maintenance

A dry-ageing process improvement

What role does refrigeration play in the supply chain?