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Practical Equipment Strategies to Remove Foreign Contaminants from Processing Lines

Large-volume automation in the meat processing industry brings a higher risk of foreign material contamination. Foreign material can include metal shavings and shards from grinders, mixers and dicers, wood and nails from pallets, and numerous other materials like plastics and glass.

The following are equipment options and proper maintenance practices that can help mitigate foreign material risk in food handling transfer areas:

  • In areas where a tote dumper is used to transfer meat to secondary processing equipment, equipment manufacturers can offer a PRS (Pallet Retention System) that removes the pallet out of the food transfer zone.
  • A drop belt conveyor can be included in system designs that provides repositioning of the meat product during conveyance to allow for visual inspection before the product is transported to downstream equipment.
  • Magnetic grates can be integrated into food transfer areas on processing equipment.
  • The best way to limit foreign material such as nuts, bolts, and metal shavings is to have a robust preventative maintenance program on all equipment.  Machinery vibration can cause nuts and bolts to loosen over time. Wear points on machinery that are not aligned can produce loose metal.  Brittle plastics such as seal holders, conveyor guards and plastic bearings can break down into small pieces and become difficult to detect. Proper construction of the equipment that withstands high-volume and high-speed production is equally important as regular maintenance audits to make sure the equipment is in good working order to help eliminate preventable foreign contamination.

Compare EP Food Contact Surfaces under 200X Magnification

Apache routinely conducts tests for customers and in-house studies on the benefits of electropolished surfaces on food contact surfaces.

Highlighted above, is a study that compares high-end finishes under 200X magnification:

  1. 304 Stainless Steel Bead Blast Finish with readings from 35 – 45 RA
  2. 304 Stainless Steel 2B + Electropolished Finish with reading from 5 – 6 RA
  3. 304 Stainless Steel 2B Finish (12-gauge material) with reading from 15 – 17 RA
  4. 304 Stainless Steel 2B Finish (10-gauge material) with reading from 20 – 30 RA

It shows the RA (Roughness average) reading in four finish examples of 304 stainless steel. In the study, the electropolished finish is more than six times smoother that the bead blasted finish.

What makes this study significant is that food processors can leverage electropolished surfaces to increase food safety performance.  Our customer’s who choose electropolished food contact surfaces tell us that food safety is significantly enhanced, and sanitation efficiencies are realized in time savings and water usage.


Interactive PDF Highlights Food Safety Compliance and Processes

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We've developed an interactive PDF that includes industry news and best practices, paired with Mepaco's solutions and videos to help processors solve food safety challenges.

Discover:

  • USDA, FSIS and FSMA Compliance and Validation as it relates to processing equipment design and recommended construction
  • Removal of foreign contaminants using modifications to system layouts and equipment
  • Acceptable level of environmental hygiene and best practices for surface cleanability
  • Improved sanitation training and processes featuring CIP and COP equipment designs that are maintenance-friendly
  • Traceability and how equipment and controls programs help prevent food recalls

10 Food Processing Equipment Designs that Drive Safety

 

  1. Safety guarding is recommended on equipment like the dumper shown in the animation.  Relays control the e-stop position and if personnel trips the switch, the equipment will cease operation.
  2. This PRS (Pallet Retention System) shown on a DP3000 Dumper, and allows the combo to complete the dump cycle by separating from the pallet, limiting the potential for contamination.
  3. A liner hold-down prevents the liner from separating from the combo and falling into the hopper.
  4. A drop-tier conveyor can be included in system layouts to provide visual inspection of the food product.
  5. The articulating screw conveyor is designed to pivot to allow for versatile production and lower for maintenance.
  6. Custom stainless and passivated platforms provide personnel safety and easy access for sanitation.
  7. Electropolished food contact surfaces guard against bacterial attachment and create sanitation efficiencies.
  8. Tool-less quick-release seals provide quick access for maintenance and sanitation.
  9. Durable food safe coating on equipment components resists corrosion in harsh environments.
  10. Type 304 or 316 stainless construction is a best practice for equipment designs using either open-frame construction with exposed threads or tube frame designs with non-exposed threads.
That's our top 10 safety best practice call-outs for this system, learn more at www.mepaco.net. 

 

 


Lunch & Learn Customized to your Business

 

If you would like to learn more about food safety and sanitation equipment innovations trending in food processing equipment and systems, we are offering a Lunch & Learn presentation.  


Discover:

  • Food processing equipment that is customized to specific applications and to scale
  • System examples with animation and video that solve processing throughput
  • Sanitation design options and best practices
  • Maintenance and food safety driven innovations

 

Our focus will be to customize this presentation to talk about your production needs, and safety and sanitation goals.

We will monitor COVID-19 travel and distancing regulations and if allowed, we can have the Lunch & Learn at Apache Stainless or at your facility. Just let us know and we will take care of lunch.

We will also offer a virtual meeting if that works best, and we will send attendees a gift card for lunch on us!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Contact a technical sales manager to schedule!


Sanitation and Safety Checklist: Time for a Review?

An equipment safety and sanitation audit can provide direction for implementing improvement procedures and specifying equipment updates that mitigate risk and solve for safety and production goals.  Here’s an excerpt from our audit checklist:

  • Are all parts of the equipment readily accessible for inspection, maintenance, sanitation?
  • Is there any evidence of premature wear on parts?
  • Does the equipment properly self-drain to assure food product, water or sanitizing fluids do not accumulate?
  • Are all hollow areas removed where possible or permanently sealed to eliminate any harborage areas?
  • During operation, does the equipment perform properly as not to contribute to unsanitary conditions?
  • Is the equipment free of niches, pits, cracks, corrosion, recessed, open seams, gaps inside threads, bolt rivets, protruding ledges, rusting and dead ends?
  • Are the enclosures and HMIs designed, constructed, and maintained to ensure food product, water or other liquids do not penetrate or accumulate on the enclosure or interface?
  • Is there adequate space between the floor and the equipment body for sanitation?
  • Are bearings, gear motors and hydraulic system sealed, guarded, and/or mounted away from the product zone? 

    Our 25-point checklist walks through compatibility, compliance, food safety risk and personnel safety.  

    Contact a technical sales manager for a plant visit risk review.

10 Solution Examples to Reduce Foreign Material Contamination

Every food processor has their own unique food safety challenges. Here is one process room scenario where attention to process layout, equipment modifications and training can significantly reduce foreign material contamination.

  1. Operator Training High-volume automation brings a high degree of risk for machinery fatigue and vibration. Over time, nuts and bolts will loosen and moving components that become misaligned can produce loose metal. In addition, the equipment operator must completely understand how every facet of the equipment works, including the symptoms when it isn’t running properly.  
  2. Seal Maintenance Many causes of downstream food contamination are the result of a broken seal, improper packing or a grooved or broken shaft. COP (clean-out-of-place) split seals should be checked for wear and sanitized daily. Seals should be part of the preventative maintenance program and included in your parts inventory.
  3. Pallet Retention System (PRS) The PRS is integrated into the loading base of select pallet dumper equipment. It is engineered to securely remove the pallet away from the dump zone so that wood, nails, and other impurities are prevented from entering the product stream. 
  4. Liner Hold Down Another option on pallet dumper equipment is the liner hold-down mechanism which is engineered to hold back the liner during the dumping process. The liner hold-down prevents the plastic from entering the food zone and prevents the operators from having to lean or reach over the food zone to control the liner.
  5. Electropolished Food Contact Finishes Processors often choose electropolished food contact surfaces on equipment which provide the smoothest surfaces for ease of sanitation, and provide the highest level of corrosion resistance, including the performance of weldments.
  6. Open-frame Construction Open-design framework with butt weld type, ground to a smooth finish provides superior sanitation performance.  Bolt and thread designs should be hygienically designed with enclosed threads.
  7. Metal Detection In this example, the metal detector is placed near the beginning of the grind-blend line to detect and circumvent tramp metal from entering the grinder and downstream equipment.
  8. Drop-Conveyor Inspection The drop belt conveyor shown in the layout allows trim meat to be flipped during conveyance and allows for visual inspection of foreign material before the product is transported downstream.
  9. Grinder Maintenance Foreign material can include metal shavings and shards from grinders.  Keep the grinder finely tuned and in proper alignment; keep the pins, bushings, heads and knives in well maintained condition. 
  10. Sanitation Training  Confirm that the sanitation crew completely understands the proper disassembly and reassembly of all COP (clean-out-of-place) components. Improper installation may create wear points on machinery which can lead to contamination.

    Contact our technical sales representatives for questions for Food Safety Solutions in your process layout
 

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