“Hygienic design prevents the machines from having a negative influence on food quality and safety. It reduces maintenance cycles, cleaning and set-up times and this, in turn, increases process efficiency and reduces the overall operating costs. The risk of food becoming contaminated is significantly less as the components can be accessed quickly and cleaned easily.”
Consumers demand safe, tasty and healthy food. They expect breakfast cereals to be free from pathogenic bacteria, they do not expect to bite into a piece of metal and they expect to be able to trust the allergen information on the packaging. However, despite all this, the health of the consumer comes under threat time and again.
Despite all the improvements that have been made, infections caused by a lack of hygiene remain a major food safety issue and pose a huge challenge for the food industry. The supply chain is exposed to potential pathogenic germs all over the place, as well as to other hazards such as foreign bodies, allergens or chemical impurities. The delivered raw materials generally contain impurities which get into the product in the fields during harvest, transport, storage or processing. Nobody wants to hit the headlines because of product recalls or even cases of death. Therefore it is in the interest of food producers to eliminate contamination as far as possible so that consumers can safely enjoy their food.
The Swiss family business, Bühler, is a global technology partner of companies in the food industry and aims to develop future-oriented solutions in the field of food safety. It offers integrated process solutions to reduce the risk of contamination along the whole length of the industrial food production value chain. Its aim is to produce high-quality end products, free from harmful micro-organisms, insects, machine oil and foreign bodies such as metal, glass or wood. So Bühler’s product range includes process solutions such as optical sorting, detection and removal of precisely these foreign bodies. Where food processing machines are concerned, the issue of hygienic design during the development stage is becoming increasingly important as food industry companies are placing increasingly higher demands on the hygiene of machines and components in production plants. But what does hygienic design mean exactly?
The term “hygienic design” refers to the design of machines and appliances which are easy to clean and to the selection of the materials used to build them. It also helps to make the production of foodstuffs safer and to reduce the risk of impurities. Bühler has built, for example, a new flaking roller mill for the production of breakfast cereals which fulfils many requirements for a modern, hygienic machine design. When designing this machine, Bühler followed not just the EC Machinery Directive but also the guidelines of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG). An important aspect that becomes apparent on flaking machines is the need to be able to clean all the parts and components with as few problems as possible. The geometry and surfaces used are paramount here; for example, as far as the machine cover is concerned, there are very few horizontal surfaces on which dirt can collect, and it is made of smooth, rust-free Alu-Dibond® with rounded edges. The design, which has very few screws and individual components, reduces the risk of foreign bodies getting into the product flow. With few nooks and crannies and a surface area that is generally reduced in comparison to the previous model, the structure is particularly easy to clean. The same goes for the machine’s interior which comes into contact with the product and is made entirely of stainless steel. “Dead spots” inside the machine – i.e. areas which dust particles can stick to or even on which mould and bacteria can form – have also been reduced to a minimum.
The special features of the flaking roller mill which can produce breakfast cereals, for example, from extruded and cooked flakes of corn (maize), wheat, oats and multi-grain with the highest throughput capacity, include the wide-opening housing doors that are easy to remove and feature large inspection windows, and the swing-up front panels. The operator can access all the important machine components quickly and easily, including the hydraulic and pneumatic systems which are also located at an optimum working height. This not only improves the dry cleaning process, but also speeds up machine maintenance.
The steel rolls which weigh just over two tonnes and are 1.20 metres in length previously had to be replaced in a lengthy process taking several hours, but now can be replaced by operators in half the time thanks to the simplified accessibility (fewer parts need to be removed and there is more space between the rolls and the side wall). Individual parts which come into direct contact with food can be easily removed and washed separately. Brand new on the market are Bühler’s practical inspection windows which are made of heat resistant polycarbonate and can be fitted on all side panels. These windows ensure that all relevant parts (moving parts, hydraulic and pneumatic elements) remain visible during operation and, if necessary, operators can quickly react to prevent food and machine safety from being jeopardised.
Hygienic design prevents the machines from having a negative influence on food quality and safety. It reduces maintenance cycles, cleaning and set-up times and this, in turn, increases process efficiency and reduces the overall operating costs. The risk of food becoming contaminated is significantly less as the components can be accessed quickly and cleaned easily. Bühler’s new flaking roller mill is an example of the way in which the company contributes to the hygiene-related and efficient production of food. Bühler’s targets are high productivity and perfect enjoyment of food.