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Making food safe to consume

29 October 2018

The customer has the legal right to expect food to be safe to consume, but who owns the responsibility for achieving this?

Currently, so far as food manufacturing is concerned, it lies with both the manufacturer of the systems or machinery involved and the food manufacturing company.

The machinery manufacturing company has the responsibility for avoiding all potential areas of food/drink contamination within the system. This includes minimising potential ‘traps’ where food can become lodged and become difficult to remove during cleaning. Typically, these might include poorly welded and unfinished joints, sharp angular bends in metal and unsuitable fastenings with open heads.

There is also the selection of the materials employed for machinery construction to be considered. To ensure the appropriate materials are employed, the food manufacturer must provide comprehensive details of all ingredients involved and the cleaning materials/chemicals that will be used. Most of the guidance insists that stainless steel should be used wherever possible.

Cleaning must also be taken into consideration by the machinery manufacturer. Smooth surfaces and easy access to all areas are essential requirements. Also, the ability to clean machinery components ‘in place’ has become increasingly important, both to facilitate cleaning and to avoid possible contamination ingress.

Yet there seems to be a common anachronism amongst these hygiene sensitive installations – finned, painted electric motors being employed to drive machinery. When their use is questioned the response is often: ‘not in direct contact with food’. Whilst this may be true, cleaning operations, such as pressure washing of floors and areas of machinery will atomise germs that can collect on the motors.

Finned motors can therefore act as a breeding ground for germs, becoming a potential product contamination risk. Numerous catchment areas include fins, nameplates and angular terminal boxes that can serve as prime bug-breeding zones. Furthermore, they are difficult and troublesome to clean and certainly cannot effectively be ‘cleaned in place’, hence the dubious practice of “bagging” motors being employed.

These hygiene issues are eliminated by adopting Lafert’s ‘Marlin’ range of smooth bodied, stainless steel motors and gearboxes. Designed specifically for the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, they offer easy-to-clean characteristics and extended reliability. Rated IP69K/66, they can be cleaned using high-pressure hoses and have reduced material-catchment areas to harbour germs – motor details are etched onto the body which has an integrated smooth terminal box

IP66 rated inverters can also be supplied to complete the washdown-tolerant package.
T. 01270 270022  E.

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