What is Hygienic design?
In the food industry hygiene plays a big role – this is well known. Health of the consumers and linked liability questions are central aspects of processing and refining of food. On European level the European Hygienic and design Group (EHEDG) with headquarter in Frankfurt a. M. takes care of regulations in this field. Food technicians and mechanical engineers there determine the requirements for constructions and procedures. These serve as a basis for the respective national regulations and norms.
Three areas have to be differentiated within the production: In the food area the machine parts have direct contact with the raw materials. Because here the contamination danger is the highest, the most strict regulations count. In the spraying area where pollutions can originate from extruding particles in the production process the requirements are likewise high. Finally, the not food area which is free of contact and whose hygienic regulations are lower. If during the production antiseptic measures are already integrated, with heating and preservation, some precautions can be renounced. This is different in the processing of fresh products: Here aseptic conditions are a regulation. In general the materials of the machines should not corrode, expose no toxic substances and be long-lasting. Lubricants should not come into contact with the food. Also the manufacturers of packaging materials with direct contact to food products should fulfil such regulations.
Also design aspects must be taken into consideration. Micro-organisms nest preferably on rough surfaces and connecting parts. This concerns especially valves and conveyer belts. Here depending on the sensitivity of the products the hygiene engineers pay attention to the materials which prevent wear. Pipe connections with dead rooms are avoided - hence, smooth surfaces friendly to cleaning are optimum. The rooms of the plants stand also in the focus of the examiners. For the servicing and care is good lighting of the sensitive points important. Even the in colour design of the technical interfaces should be comfortable for cleaning, so that contaminations strike even visually.
For domestic food producers these regulations are binding. This means a split between economic efficiency and observance of the hygiene regulations. Who produces beyond the EU, must face strict import controls by the official food guards. Besides, importers are treated as equal to the manufacturers juridically. A disregard of the hygiene design in the foreign production would be conspicuous at the latest during the random checks of the controllers.
Employees in the processing of food are trained in hygiene questions. This is taken care of in Germany by the professional association of food and restaurants (BGN). With a certification of the plant constructions by the BGN the operator knows that he can produce with machines that are flawless hygienically and technically. Now the producer has the responsibility for maintenance and servicing, so that the consumer always has healthy food on the table.
Ralph Bloemer, InterMeat.de