This article originally appeared in the Spring issue of the Packaging + Processing OEM published by The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. It has been republished below for our readers like yourself!
As low-moisture food producers seek to meet new sanitation standards, they are looking to machinery advances to improve food safety and minimize the risk of recalls. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirement for sanitary equipment design poses a challenge for many processors in this market.
In the Spring of 2016, Sentry Equipment, an advanced manufacturer specializing in industrial representative sampling, began the process of developing two new samplers for the food and beverage industry: the Sentry® HRX automatic strip sampler and the Sentry® HPR point sampler. AJ Naber, food and beverage industry manager for Sentry Equipment, needed a set of guidelines for their product development engineers as they created these new products with hygienic design in mind.
Guidelines for Creating Hygienic New Products
“Following general design concepts may be sufficient to help companies meet baseline levels of compliance, but in the area of low-moisture foods, the risk of recalls and food safety incidents has been a particularly critical area,” said Naber. “Our engineering team needed clear definitions and guidance regarding materials, design and construction techniques specific to this hygienic design project.”
The two new samplers are hygienic versions of existing Sentry automatic samplers. The Sentry Hygienic RX strip sampler and the Sentry Hygienic PR point sampler automate sampling of dry free-flowing materials such as granules, powders, flakes, pellets, grain or seed from positive or negative pressure systems, gravity chutes and hoppers.
One Voice for Hygienic Equipment Design
To address the needs of the engineering team at Sentry Equipment, Naber was directed to the OpX Leadership Network’s One Voice for Hygienic Equipment Design for Low-Moisture Foods guideline. The OpX Leadership Network, convened by PMMI, The Association for Packaging & Processing Technologies, is a forum of OEMs and end users who identify and solve common operational challenges.
The hygienic design guidelines were created by leading manufacturers to establish standard processes, steps and methods to foster collaboration with equipment manufacturers to reduce risk and increase compliance, as well as reach consensus on specific criteria for the design and construction of hygienic (a.k.a. sanitary) production equipment. The OpX Leadership Network recommends using a “joint collaboration process” between consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) and OEMs to implement these hygienic design criteria – with a goal of getting all stakeholders on board with project goals and desired outcomes.
“When our engineering team was working to develop these two new samplers, we initially didn’t have a standard to work from and comply with,” said Naber. “The OpX Leadership Network guidelines were great to guide the team through what hygienic design meant to our target market (low-moisture food CPGs), simply by using the document and following the prescribed design criteria. It also made the back-end of the process straight forward by allowing the team to walk back through the document as a final design evaluation and confirmation.”
As FSMA continues to affect the processing and packaging industry, guidelines such as the One Voice for Hygienic Equipment Design for Low-Moisture Foods will help foster collaboration between OEMs and CPGs in order to minimize food contamination risk. Visit OpXLeadershipNetwork.org to download the full document and access other free operational solutions. Find out more about Sentry food and beverage sampling solutions.