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Conveyor belt standards

Posted: 1 November 2011 | | 1 comment

Food contact materials are all materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with foodstuffs, as well as those in contact with water intended for human consumption. As a general rule, FDA legislation is based on positive lists and maximum quantities of substances to be used, while EU legislation is based on positive lists of the substances and maximum limit of migration to the food. Conveyor belts that meet EU regulations do not always meet the FDA requirements and vice versa, making it difficult for conveyor belt manufacturers to ensure their products are safe for food products.

Familiarity and comprehension of belting applications and standards is of vital importance to conveyor belt manufacturers so that they can translate them into their products. There are standards for materials used, hygiene and food safety, which overlap and are increasingly important for belt manufacturers.

Food contact materials are all materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with foodstuffs, as well as those in contact with water intended for human consumption. As a general rule, FDA legislation is based on positive lists and maximum quantities of substances to be used, while EU legislation is based on positive lists of the substances and maximum limit of migration to the food. Conveyor belts that meet EU regulations do not always meet the FDA requirements and vice versa, making it difficult for conveyor belt manufacturers to ensure their products are safe for food products.Familiarity and comprehension of belting applications and standards is of vital importance to conveyor belt manufacturers so that they can translate them into their products. There are standards for materials used, hygiene and food safety, which overlap and are increasingly important for belt manufacturers.

Food contact materials are all materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with foodstuffs, as well as those in contact with water intended for human consumption. As a general rule, FDA legislation is based on positive lists and maximum quantities of substances to be used, while EU legislation is based on positive lists of the substances and maximum limit of migration to the food. Conveyor belts that meet EU regulations do not always meet the FDA requirements and vice versa, making it difficult for conveyor belt manufacturers to ensure their products are safe for food products.

Familiarity and comprehension of belting applications and standards is of vital importance to conveyor belt manufacturers so that they can translate them into their products. There are standards for materials used, hygiene and food safety, which overlap and are increasingly important for belt manufacturers.

FDA

Part of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) remit is to protect the population from the harmful effects of substances of whatever kind present in foods or from substances which in any way have an effect on foods which is harmful to humans. Conveyor belts are used on a very large scale for conveying packed and unpacked foodstuffs, which come in direct contact with the coating of conveyor belts. The FDA has compiled a list of raw materials which are permissible in these coatings. The FDA does not test or certify products, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to declare that belt covers meet FDA requirements.

USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops and executes policy on farming, agriculture and food. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring all meat, poultry and processed egg products in the US are safe to eat and accurately labelled. Conveyor belts are often used for unpacked products, therefore food products must not suffer harmful effects from the belts coatings and the belts must be thoroughly cleanable.

European Union

EC 1935/2004 is in place to prevent unacceptable quantities of food contact material components migrating into foodstuff. If an article comes into contact with food, it should be labelled or bear the appropriate symbol.

The Overall Migration Limit (OML) is 60 milligrams of substances or kilograms of foodstuff or food simulants that applies to all substances that can migrate from food contact materials to foodstuffs. The Specific Migration Limit (SML) applies to individual authorised substances and is fixed on the basis of toxicological evaluation; established according to the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) or the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) set by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF).

From 1 May 2011, new European legislation on plastics that come into contact with food comes into practice. The new regulation consolidated all previous directives and regulations regarding plastic food-contact materials and implements some significant changes, including the inclusion of plastic layers in so-called ‘multi-material’ articles, which contain more than one type of substrate. Previously, only plastic or multi-layer articles made entirely of plastic were covered. Under the new Plastics Implementing Measure (PIM), multi-material articles such as conveyor belts are required to comply compositionally with the positive list of substances permitted for use in plastics.

HACCP

Conveyor companies can also adhere to the preventative system HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). In this system, the complete production process is checked for potential physical, chemical and microbiological hazards for food. Managing hygiene risks during preparation and processing rather than finished product inspection is a system that increases food safety and minimises wastage. HACCP includes seven principles; hazard analysis, identification of Critical Control Points (CCP), monitoring of CCP prevention measures, corrective actions, validation of HACCP system and record-keeping procedures.

EHEDG

The European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) is a consortium of equipment manufacturers, food industries, research institutes and public health authorities founded in 1989 to promote hygiene during the processing and packaging of food products. While European legislation requires that handling, preparation, processing and pack – aging of food is hygienic, with hygienic machinery in hygienic premises, how to comply with the legislation is left to the industry, which is where EHEDG comes in, providing practical guidance on hygienic engineering aspects to help comply with the requirements. The Group provides procedures for evaluating, testing and certifying process equipment. EHEDG can authorise the use of the EHEDG certification logo for equipment that conforms to the EHEDG hygienic design criteria.

EHEDG promotes global standards and guidelines and as such, cooperates with the development of NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) and 3-A standards, and in return, NSF and 3-A cooperate with EHEDG on the development of EHEDG’s guidelines. NSF develops standards, tests products and provides certification services in areas of public health, safety and environment protection. NSF takes into account both materials and belt construction into consideration when giving approval for conveyor belts in the food industry. 3-A standards define sanitary design for dairy processing equipment. Approval from 3-A means that conveyor belts can be used in the dairy industry in the US.

ISO 22000 : 2005

One of the International Organisation of Standardisation’s (ISO) standards is Quality Management Systems standard ISO 9001, which provides a uniform standard worldwide for quality management that ensures that a buyer in one region of the world would have a degree of confidence in the quality practices of a registered company in another region. ISO have applied this to food safety management, incorporating HAACP principles into the quality management system. ISO 22000 requires the design and documentation of a Food Safety Management System. ISO 22000 requires;

  • A food safety policy developed by top management with objectives to comply
  • Designing, documenting and recording the performance of the Food Safety Management System including management review meetings
  • Establishing a group of qualified individuals to make up a Food Safety Team
  • Communication procedures for effective external and internal communication
  • An emergency plan
  • Resources for the effective operation of the Food Safety Management System including training, infrastructure and work environment to ensure food safety
  •  Following HACCP principles
  • A traceability system for product identification, corrective action system and control of nonconforming product
  • Monitoring and measuring devices and internal audit program, continually updating and improving the Food Safety Management System

Of importance for conveyor belt manufacturers is that all raw materials and contact materials must be specified and ISO 22000 gives a long list of requirements, including method of production.

These are just some of the guidelines and references that conveyor belt manufacturers must take into account when developing and manufacturing food-safe conveyors.

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One response to “Conveyor belt standards”

  1. Thanks for explaining that the USDA requires that belts for conveyor systems must be thoroughly cleanable. Having all the right safety features on a conveyor would be important to me if I owned a company that handled food. Whether it be conveyor skirting systems, cleanable bests, or guarding, all of those features would be key in providing a safe work area.

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