Food safety is a strict business, but it becomes even tighter when you factor in ready-to-eat products. The category of ready-to-eat includes a lot of average products like hot dogs and deli meats. Almost anything that is pre-cooked and packaged can be considered a ready-to-eat product.
Ready-to-eat (RTE) products go a step beyond regular food grade products because the possibility of contamination is much more dangerous. Non-RTE products are often cooked by the customer after purchase, which usually eliminates the most dangerous things in meat, but RTE products aren’t usually cooked again after being packaged.
After they are packaged, you have to assume that any contamination in the food is going directly to the customer. How do you protect against this issue?
Besides very strict equipment and clothing precautions for the employees, it really comes down to the machinery that you use. Conveyor systems in particular need to be designed very carefully. When designing for RTE applications, we start off with our food grade conveyor as a base. It is built with stainless steel angle and continuous TIG welding which seals cracks or openings.
These RTE locations have to clean very regularly, and our construction design allows for resistance to any corrosive cleaning chemicals. Where possible it is also built with angles that prevent this water from pooling up because bacteria can form in the standing water.
Aside from that, we use plastic food grade belting which is easily sanitized; however, different belts are sometimes required for certain products. Bacon bits, for example, are very small and can stick in the plastic belting, so we also have food grade continuous rubber belting which is less prone to catching onto small products.
Most plants have their own set of regulations for RTE and they can vary quite a bit. We are very open-minded to the design of our conveyors and we can adapt it to a specific location’s specs. An example of this is that sometimes you encounter a plant that requires special bearing types,
Don’t compromise on food grade equipment. Give our tried-and-true food grade and RTE conveyor systems a chance.
Learn more about Food Grade Conveyors