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
Cleaning is one of the biggest requirements for a lot of food handling equipment, and conveyor systems are no exception. If a conveyor doesn’t facilitate easy cleaning, it can begin to build up with extra food material which can also hurt its functionality.
Especially in cases where meat is being handled, cleaning has to be done carefully. Fat and extra meat can get caught in conveyor belts, but it isn’t always the wisest choice to just spray at the top to get it out. This could just get it stuck even more.
Fortunately, we have a line of Easy-To-Clean™ conveyors that have a whole host of options to help you clean the right way.
These conveyors can be built with flip-up ends which relax the conveyor belt and belt lifters which raise the belt to allow more cleaning access from the inside. This allows you to blast leftover residue and scraps out from the inside.
The benefit is that you are more likely to remove the excess food by spraying outward. Belt lifters allow you to clean the belting while the conveyor is still in-motion, saving time and wear on the motor from stopping/starting.
The conveyors also have the option to add a spray bar inside the conveyor. This allows them to self-clean to an extent while the process is running. They most likely won’t eliminate washdown cycles, as a human inspection and cleaning is more precise, but it should make the job far easier.
Options aside, there are plenty of features in the design and construction of the Easy-To-Clean™ conveyors. Like many of our products, it is made of stainless steel so it won’t rust or corrode. The only gaps are large enough to be easily cleaned while smaller gaps are welded continuously so there isn’t any open space. The body is made of angled stainless steel so there are no hollow tubes to collect water and bacteria. We make sure to bend the angles slightly less than 90 degrees in order to give them a slight incline that sheds water.
If you have cleanliness concerns with your current conveyor system, give this one a try. The options for it can be of major benefit, but even without them, this conveyor is a major improvement for washdown-heavy plants.
Learn more about Sanitary Washdown Conveyors
Conveyors are needed in a multitude of industries these days, but they can’t necessarily be the exact same conveyors. Due to health standards, the food industry runs into very strict rules for product handling. These standards are strictest in direct contact areas where the product is actually exposed to the conveyor.
Selecting the right conveyor can be a tough thing if you don’t know what to look for. Something that has caused clients of ours trouble in the past is simply moving an old conveyor to a new process that it isn’t rated for.
Sometimes, aluminum conveyors are moved to washdown zones or food handling areas. This is fairly dangerous because aluminum isn’t resistant to rust and corrosion from cleaning processes like stainless steel would be. Depending on the product, you could run into issues as well. In a plant producing spices, the spices could actually start to eat away at a conveyor made of aluminum.
Even using stainless steel doesn’t automatically ensure that you have a food grade conveyor. There are specific construction methods that have to go into a conveyor to avoid buildup of bacteria that can make its way onto food.
Having stainless steel protects the conveyor from environmental damage, but things like open construction and continuous welds ultimately protect the food from the environment. Even though the conveyor body isn’t in direct contact with the food, microbial contaminants can travel from exposed sites to the belting. You need to build in a way that minimizes open surfaces and prevents water buildup in any given area.
Speaking of direct contact, belting is very important in food grade handling as well. The best solution we have found is plastic modular belting. It is easy to wash and sanitize while still providing grip. Sometimes, inclines are necessary in a plant and plastic belting might turn out to be too slippery to manage. To solve this, it might seem like a good idea to turn to textured belting, but this actually just makes more contamination surfaces. A better idea is to install “cleats” or “flighting” which pushes the product up the incline while preventing backsliding.
Meeting cleaning requirements is a tough thing to do, but the problem is often compounded if you decide to throw the cheapest conveyor option in your plant. Make your decision right the first time by purchasing actual food-grade conveyor.
Check out Stainless Steel Conveyors
We have discussed the benefits and strengths of using an Easy-To-Clean™ Clean In Place Conveyor Systems previously, especially for those companies who need the utmost in food safety and clean room environments, but what you may not know about is the outstanding level of precision and quality that our employees have to put into every single one!
Skilled craftsmen are needed when machining, cutting, and fabricating an Easy-To-Clean™ Clean In Place Conveyor System. Specialized fabrication is necessary to ensure that no bacteria can be left on the conveyors during the washdown process.
Basically, the easier something is to wash, the easier it is to make sure that no bacteria is present after washdown.
Precision welding and cutting is a must so that all the parts can have the best fit possible. No gaps or undercut welds can be present in the final product. Both of these mistakes in welding can trap bacteria during washdown because the bacteria settles into grooves that the wash can’t quite get into.
Great care in the design is also quite important. The design team needs to space bolted parts apart to allow for a maximum level of cleaning access. They do this by using various spacers and standoffs to spread the nooks and crannies.
After everything has been polished and inspected for pin holes and undercutting, the assembly begins. The assembly crew needs to make sure that everything has the right alignment. The tight alignments of drive belts, return runners, and drive sprockets (among many other things), are responsible for a smooth-running drive belt and a steady belt transition. You need these things to ensure that your product isn’t bouncing around on the conveyor, which could negatively impact the weighing process when paired with an in-motion checkweigher.
After all this, the great care and attention to detail in our products should be quite obvious.
As a whole, the machine must be easy to clean, smoothly operating, and finely adjusted. To have a consistent, functional piece of equipment, you need to take the time and hard work to do it right!
If you need a manageable conveyor for your plant or operation, and you need to keep it squeaky clean then, do yourself a favor and take a look at some of the Easy-To-Clean™ conveyor products that we have to offer!
Roller conveyors have been a common staple in most packaging environments for quite some time, so it might come as a surprise that it is possible to improve their design, but we have improved the standard of roller conveyors to meet industry needs.
The average gravity roller conveyor is composed of a frame that holds a line of tube rollers that allow products to move across them smoothly without requiring power input from a motor.
Slight inclines cause the product to coast over the rollers.
They are often seen in shipping centers, but they are used in many other environments, including the food industry.
The strict cleaning protocols in food-related plants means that the equipment should be washdown-ready.
Our easy-to-clean roller conveyors have several unique features that qualify them for this specific task.
The first feature, which is common in most of our conveyors, is the stainless steel angle iron construction for the conveyor’s frame.
Most other conveyor frames out there use things like square tube to form the body. We avoid this because square tube is difficult to clean on the inside and it has more surface area to allow for microbial buildup.
The second feature that makes our roller conveyors so easy to clean is the fact that we seal each roller.
Commonly, rollers are made out of open-ended, hollow tubing. This hollow tubing allows a lot of internal surface area for bacteria to latch onto, and it also makes them difficult to clean, as it does with a square-tubing frame.
We solved this particular problem by capping the ends of our rollers with covers that house tight-fitting bearings.
These bearings allow the rollers to spin freely while keeping contaminants from being trapped inside the tubes.
This is just an example of how we take common industry staples and reshape them into something that solves a specific need.
Take a look at our Easy-To-Clean Conveyor applications and request a quote to ensure that you have the best washdown-ready equipment to optimize your processes.
See our Washdown Conveyors