May 27, 2021
Food producers have an important and unavoidable mission: to guarantee the safety and traceability of their products at all stages of the chain, from the production of each ingredient until the final product is consumed.
To this end, there are various food safety regulations that define, among other things, the requirements to be met by equipment and facilities that may be in contact with foodstuffs. These regulations not only constitute the legal framework that producers must comply with, but also define what is known as hygienic design.
In this article you can find out about the basic principles of hygienic design and its importance in the food industry:
Hygienic design is of major concern in plant and equipment construction, being the systematic focus of the food industry, where ensuring the safety and health of consumers is of paramount importance.
The aim is therefore to eliminate sources of physical, chemical or microbiological contamination of foodstuffs. This is a risk that must be avoided at all costs, and this is achieved by minimising any possible source of contamination, making it visible at all times, and making it easy to clean.
In order to ensure the necessary hygienic production conditions, regulations have been established, differing from country to country, which define the criteria to be followed and the measures to be taken in the design of safe equipment and facilities.
In the European Union, the legal framework that defines it is the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, together with Regulation (EC)1935/2004 on materials and articles used in contact with foodstuffs, European hygiene legislation and the legislation of the individual member states. In addition, the non-statutory standards ISO 14159 and EN 1672-2 have to be taken into account. These standards define requirements for materials, surfaces, joints, liquid drainage, contamination and cleanability.
Additionally, there is the fundamental role of the EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group), which is the body that assists European legislators, defines and spreads hygienic design standards and provides certification of equipment.
Beyond the EU, there are also other reference regulations: in the USA there are the sanitary standards 3-A, the NSF (National Sanitary Foundation), the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points); in the UK, there is the BRC (British Retail Consortium).
The norms and guidelines established by all these bodies and systems give rise to what is known as hygienic design, which aims to fulfil the requirements set by them.
Some directives provide for certification of the hygienic design and issuing of certificates if the hygienic design guidelines are met and the prescribed hygiene tests are successfully passed.
Basic premises of hygienic design are: to avoid dirt accumulations on all surfaces, making them visible and inspectable, to ensure that cleaning can be carried out easily and to keep the production environment in good condition so as not to constitute a potential contamination source (including the floor of the facility).
Hygienic design concerns the definition of materials, processes, surface treatment, joining techniques and the morphology of the parts themselves in order to ensure the proper construction of the machines to be installed in food production lines and all their components.
Therefore, the following criteria are defined as the basis for hygienic design:
Given all these criteria, it is important to distinguish between surfaces that come into contact with the product and those that do not, for a right assessment on the risk and the hygienic design to adopt in each area.
Producers who build their facilities including the hygienic design concept into the plant and into their equipment, achieve:
TMI has designed and manufactured many bagging, palletising and stretch wrapping lines for the food industry worldwide, which have included hygienic design in their conception. With the aim of supporting food producers, we have developed solutions that contribute to the following improvements:
In the bagging process there is one key point where surfaces are of vital importance for food safety: dosing. Here the surfaces are in full contact with the product, and it’s vital that the cleaning can be carried out easily, quickly and thoroughly.
For this purpose, TMI has designed a series of applications that improve maintenance throughout the product dosing units:
Beyond dosing, there are many other factors and points in the bagging line where hygienic design is key to ensuring safe food products for consumption:
Beyond directive definitions and the concept of hygienic design, in many cases it is also considered necessary to integrate metal detection systems along the line, as well as checkweighers, to always ensure the safety of the packaged product. These detection systems can be connected to alarms that instantly notify operators, as well as to data collection systems, so that the manufacturer can have actual data on the conformity of the units produced.
Such solutions have been incorporated, among others, in the design of the ILERBAG HC, a tubular FFS bagging machine designed for industries requiring a high level of hygiene; also in the construction of an auger net weight dosing system for glucose for pharmaceutical use; another example is TMI's latest development: the ILERBAG V for the food industry, a VFFS bagging machine that has been designed based on the requirements of sugar and chocolate producers.
At TMI we are aware that each project has its own specific requirements. Therefore, we assess the hygiene requirements of each individual project and propose solutions that meet them. If you want further information about the solutions that TMI can offer for your project, please contact us by filling in the quotation form: we will help you!