September 16, 2020

Food Safety - Building a Safer Future

Building for a Safer Future

Hygienic food plant design isn’t a new concept. Food and beverage manufacturers have been employing food safety systems for quite some time in order to control food safety hazards and mitigate risk and recall.

However, despite the many food safety programs in place, food recalls still happen. That’s why hygienic building design can play a critical component in a company’s food safety plan. Here’s how.

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Food safety concerns – being proactive vs. reactive

When it comes to hygienic building design, one thing is certain—combating product contamination occurs at the equipment and factory level. And, it involves being more proactive to issues upfront vs. waiting for an issue to arise and reacting accordingly.

That’s why companies need to address airflow and space condition issues. They need to better safeguard ingredients and packaging materials. And, yes, they need to invest in hygienic building components, because the tops, bottoms and sides of a manufacturing plant matter in building for a safer future.

“Designing buildings for security and safety requires a proactive approach that anticipates—and then protects—the building occupants, resources, structure and continuity of operations from multiple hazards,” according to the Whole Building Design Guide.

In order to properly mitigate risk, here’s some things to consider:

  • Spaces need to be properly pressurized to prevent infiltration from non-controlled spaces.

  • Enough airflow to achieve recommended air changes per hour in the space. New “clean” air needs to be brought in at a certain rate to prevent recirculation and lingering of any potential contaminants.

  • Supply air to the space properly conditions the space to prevent condensation.

“On top of standard good design practices for food production spaces (washdown compliant, does not provide a space for contaminants to accumulate, building envelope is properly sealed, etc.), having a properly conditioned space is critical for inhibiting contamination,” says Jordan Meadows, engineering manager of C1S Inc. Additional hygienic design details involve implementing barrier technology that tracks transport vehicles, entryways/exits, floor drains and storm water collection and restricted areas.

Up, out and on trend

Despite the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, food and beverage processors continue to build, expand and renovate facilities. In fact, SalesLeads’ research shows 55 new planned food and beverage industry projects tracked during the month of June 2020, with 17 being new projects, 19 being expansions and 27 being renovations and/or equipment upgrades. This means that as the pandemic-proof food and beverage category continues to skyrocket, so too does the manufacturers’ need to produce quality food from safe, modernized plants. That’s why, food and beverage companies have recently put a significantly increased focus on preventing condensation, says Meadows. Condensation generates moisture, which could then damage equipment, impose food spoilage, and if left uncontrolled, can eventually lead to mold growth. “Microorganisms and contaminants should be assumed present in any accumulation of water that is not part of the production process or cleaning procedure,” he adds. “This means providing proper heating and cooling to have specific setpoints in the space, and also ventilating at a rate that evacuates steam before it can accumulate.” Every company can be one bad headline away from a food safety catastrophe. Mitigating risk and recalls starts in the plant. That’s why hygienic building design should be a critical component in a company’s food safety plan.

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