of many countries identify potential
sources of microbial contamination
much more rapidly than in the past.
You obviously do not want your facility
to be identified as a source of a foodborne illness outbreak.
With a low unemployment rate, it
has become increasingly difficult to
develop and retain a trained workforce
to perform sanitation tasks. Also, sanitation is often done overnight or on
weekends and holidays, so it is not an
attractive vocation for all individuals.
Not having people who are accustomed
to cleaning the same equipment week
after week and who know those difficult-to-clean parts and areas may lead to
issues. These challenges are somewhat
compounded by the fact that many
experienced sanitors are now entering
retirement age, creating a gap in knowledge, especially if the equipment is not
easy to clean and the cleaning procedures (Sanitation Standard Operating
Procedures, SSOPs) are not well written.
We see younger employees with different skills joining the workforce.
Most companies are also always
looking for ways to improve their productivity or are asked by their customers
to do so. Equipment that is less complicated to take apart and has fewer parts
is usually easier to clean and allows for
faster changeovers. If faster changeovers
can be converted into making more
products, then the line becomes more
Mitigating Those Risks
So, let’s begin with equipment
design. There is an increasing level of
awareness about hygienic equipment
design that seems to be driven in part
by regulatory expectations and also by
a sharing of information between dif-
ferent industries. Some bakery original
equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are
becoming more dedicated to increas-
ing the hygienic design aspect of their
equipment. While there are checklists
such as the Grocery Manufacturers As-
sociation (GMA)’s equipment design
checklist for low-moisture foods that
can assist with evaluating the design of
existing and new equipment, we should
not forget some simple concepts.
The first concept to consider when
evaluating a piece of equipment for
cleanability is “If you can’t see it, you can’t
clean it or inspect it!” Put yourself in the
shoes of the sanitor who has to clean it
and try to determine how you would do
• Could you access all parts of the
equipment to scrub them?
• If tools are needed to remove a part,
do you need one tool or several?
• How difficult would the equipment
be to reassemble?
These may look like simple questions, but if you were the sanitor who