5 key questions to answer during hygienic food plant design
Food safety is a shared responsibility among different departments. Use these five high level questions to improve the sanitary design of the plant.
Food safety should always be a shared responsibility for everyone works at a food processing plant. Whether planning the hygienic design of a new or existing facility, schedule a collaborative planning session. Invite engineering and construction professionals along with individuals from multiple departments to answer key questions that will drive the sanitary design of the plant.
- What products will be made? At a high level, identify if the plant will be processing raw, uncooked products or cooked, ready-to-eat (RTE) products–or both. Does the product mix include allergens? Non-allergens? How about non-GMOs or Kosher products? Mind dry and wet ingredients, as well. These all direct the path of the plant’s sanitary design.
- How these products will be made? Determine which equipment will be used, how many process lines will be necessary, and how will they be packaged, etc.
- Will isolate plant areas be positively or negatively pressurized? And what types of physical barriers will be needed? Remember, the cleanest areas of a plant (ready-to-eat product spaces) must be positively pressurized to keep out unfiltered air. Outside air cannot be drawn in through any openings, so isolating these areas tightly is key. In addition, physical barriers such as interior walls and doors should be strategically located to isolate critical zones and limit traffic between work centers.
- How many zones of control will we need? If the plant will house both raw and ready-to-eat (RTE) products, the hygienic zones must be separated with proper corresponding filtration levels and airflow. Keep in mind, dry ingredients and packaging areas often require humidity control, each requiring its own “zone of control.”
- What is the cleaning cycle, and which chemicals will be used for sanitation? Ensure materials used in the design can withstand both harsh cleaning chemicals and temperature variations. Also consider how to segregate and store maintenance and cleaning tools. These can often come in contact with unclean equipment during disassembly for cleaning or repair–posing a major food safety threat. Planning ahead from the design stage can prevent this situation in your food manufacturing plant.
Joe Bove is the vice president of design at Stellar. This article originally appeared on Stellar's Food for Thought blog. Stellar is a CFE content partner. Edited by Joy Chang, digital project manager, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org
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