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EHEDG conveyor guideline offers hygienic best practices

Julie Larson Bricher, EHEDG Contributing Writer, interviews Jon Kold, Chairman of EHEDG Working Group Conveyor Systems.

EHEDG Doc. 43, ‘Hygienic Design of Belt Conveyors for the Food Industry’, is one of the latest guidelines from the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group to convey science-based best practices to food equipment manufacturers and food producers. The 76-page illustrated report is also the first to provide an in-depth look at ‘conveying clean’, detailing how the hygienic design of belt conveyors can contribute to enhanced food safety while reducing production costs. Published in April 2016, Doc. 43 is the result of five years’ work by the EHEDG Working Group on Conveyor Systems, a team of subject matter experts, engineers and scientists in the field of food science and technology. “In 2011 EHEDG asked me to chair a working group tasked with writing a guideline for conveyors used in the food processing industry,” says Jon J. Kold, who also serves as regional section chair, EHEDG Denmark.

“The group attracted broad industry participation, from the cleaning industry to food manufacturers to leading conveyor manufacturers. Competitors worked together to define best practices in this area because efficient hygienic design of conveyors and belts – food-contact equipment installed in nearly every food plant – is essential to ensure a high level of food safety.”

The resulting EHEDG Doc. 43 guideline focuses on the hygienic design of belt conveyors used in food production environments where wet cleaning is mandatory. Due to the wide variety of foods manufactured, methods of production, cleaning regimes and types of conveyor systems in any given processing plant, the new guideline was developed with these complex challenges in mind.

“When the various types of belt conveyors used in food production and their level of cleanability are factored in,” adds Jon, “optimising a facility’s line with hygienic design can be complicated. That is why the objective of EHEDG Doc. 43 is not only to equip food processors with knowledge about the availability of hygienically designed belt conveyors, but also to provide equipment engineers with better insight into areas of improvement. It is important that the buyer is inspired to specify their needs in detail and for the supplier to see the possibilities for improved cleanability of these systems,” he says. In addition to improvements in food safety, EHEDG Doc. 43 advises that food processors can also expect economic benefits from hygienically designed belt conveyor systems. Depending on the particular process and requisite food safety systems, the frequency of cleaning and the production stop times for cleaning conveyors and components between shifts can be reduced significantly by employing hygienic design. Cost-savings can also be realised through reduced labour costs, especially if the plant is operating with clean-in-place (CIP) systems.

Jon emphasises that among the most important messages that food manufacturers and equipment designers can take away from EHEDG Doc. 43 is to communicate with each other. Collaboration will result in enhanced hygienic best practices for the design and installation of new conveyors in the food production operation as well as for refitting old conveyor equipment. For food manufacturers, the first step is to conduct a thorough Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) evaluation. Specifically, making sure that critical control points (CCPs) are identified relative to the processing plant’s conveyor systems. “By using the HACCP approach, food producers are better able to define the objectives and identify the CCPs for their particular conveyor systems, taking into account the specific food types and associated contamination risks,” Jon explains.

About Jon J. Kold

JON J. KOLD has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the Danish Technical University and a degree in business administration. For the last 7 years he has worked as a private consultant for Staalcentrum and the work related to the EHEDG committee. He is dedicated to increasing knowledge of hygienic design to improve food safety and process efficiency. Together with the EHEDG committee he helped DTU to establish the centre for Hygienic Design and the Test Centre. He is member of the EHEDG test method group and the chairman for the EHEDG Committee.

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