How to Choose the Right Equipment to Maximize Food Safety

Canada hasn’t been immune to food safety issues in the past. Many still remember the listeriosis outbreak of 2008, caused by contaminated slicing equipment at a Toronto-area facility, which struck down over fifty people across Canada.

The good news is that exposing the public to food pathogens is avoidable. By taking the right precautions, understanding updated standards and implementing the latest technologies in food safety automation, all food and beverage producers can maximize quality and hygiene to ensure food safety from farm to table.

North American Food Safety Regulations

The leading public agency in Canada is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), while in the United States it’s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both are responsible for taking the necessary steps (including creating enforceable regulations and issuing recalls for consumers) to ensure food safety.

Two of their most significant initiatives

- The CFIA’s Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) is designed to promote the creation and ongoing use of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs in food and beverage manufacturing and handling facilities. If an establishment doesn’t attain or loses this recognition, the CFIA can strip the company of the right to make any claims about HACCP compliance.
- The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) represents the most comprehensive reform to food safety laws in the United States in over seven decades. It was signed into law in January 2011. As of September 19, 2016, bigger businesses were required to demonstrate compliance with a number of the new standards.

In recent years, it has been possible to note the fundamental focuses for both the CFIA and FDA shift from responding to contamination to preventing it in the first place. The ultimate goal in both countries is to create a self-sustaining food safety system in which producers take proactive steps to address problems when they arise and before they become violations.

Choosing equipment with food safety in mind

Choosing processing equipment designed for food safety is the key to effectively controlling and eliminating hazards. Bacteria can double every twenty minutes, meaning that one bacterium can turn into sixteen million over the course of an eight-hour shift!

To ensure food safety at every stage, make sure the equipment…

- Enables Easy Access for Cleaning | The equipment should be engineered with an open design so you can clean every part of it and inspect it in place and must be protecting against dust and high-pressure, high-temperature water in order to be resistant to corrosion.
- Prevents Liquids and Soils from Collecting | The equipment can’t be allowed to harbour any pathogens. It should have round housings and no flat surfaces to prevent pooling and contamination.
- Is Made with Compatible Materials | The equipment needs to be compatible with food products. For example, servomotors with food-compatible coatings or greases, processing materials and cleaning chemicals not reacting in such way as to create hazards. The 316 series stainless steel, designed to combat corrosion and be stronger at higher temperatures, is best for most food applications.
- Features Hermetically Sealed Hollow Areas | Equipment should eliminate rollers or frames wherever that’s possible and seal where it isn’t.