Designing for Food Safety

Allison and Vince show how machine designs impact food safety.


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Challenges in food processing equipment design

Today, we're looking at the engineering behind food processing equipment. It's no secret: the United States has suffered a lot of food recalls lately. Beef, eggs, peanuts, spinach, pistachios, and even lettuce have all been recalled since 2006. So what does that mean to the engineers who design food processing equipment? Well, first, it means designing machinery that is easy to inspect, easy to clean and has nowhere for foods or liquids to collect v that means lots of rounded edges, sloping sides, and parts that are easy to disconnect for cleaning.

Increasingly, food processors are relying on their equipment providers to deliver turn-key service·design, engineering and installation of complete processing and packaging lines, rather than simply providing individual machines. Increasingly, food processors are relying on their equipment providers to deliver turn-key service·design, engineering and installation of complete processing and packaging lines, rather than simply providing individual machines. By using advanced design technologies, engineers at many food processing machinery companies are now creating assemblies from a large library of existing designed assemblies and parts rather than creating new designs one at a time.

Sometimes it's market changes pushing engineers to new designs. The recent shift towards healthy eating means different ingredients, and that means changing current installations. At Fritsch, the bakery processing equipment manufacturer, they frequently modify existing installations. Their engineers use Direct Modeling software with part and assembly modeling in a common design mode, all within one environment. That makes design changes easy, whether to meet a new market need, or to conform to new legislation.

Processing of liquid foods, like milk, present unique sanitation challenges. But clean-in-place technologies avoid the need to dismantle equipment for cleaning. These technologies have evolved to include micro-processors, flow controls and better detergents. One of the engineering challenges is to make the cleaning process more environmentally friendly by using less detergent and less energy. Two recent green advances are now available or soon will be. Aeolus Technologies has introduced a clean in place system that saves energy by using air instead of hot water. And in the first half of 2011, Diversy plans to introduce a rapid clean in place system that cuts the number of cleaning steps from 7 down to 3: just pre-rinse, add detergent and do the final rinse. And because it doesn't use heat, it saves a lot of energy.