Food safety regulations are some of the most robust pieces of legislation that exist. These regulations not only govern food ingredients used during the manufacturing process but also external factors which play a role in guaranteeing food safety in the production environment.
Read on to learn more about the role hygienic design plays in the food industry and why it is important that each object, surface and material that comes into contact with foods adheres to specific guidelines.
WHAT IS HYGIENIC DESIGN?
Hygienic design seeks to eliminate any type of direct and indirect contamination risk posed to foods, regardless of the source.
In this respect, Regulation 852/2004 of the European Parliament on the hygiene of foodstuffs sets out the hygienic requirements food business operators must respect in the upkeep of articles, fittings and equipment that come into contact with food. This includes:
- Cleaning and, where necessary, disinfecting.
- Ensuring facilities, materials, and conservation and maintenance practices minimise any risk of contamination.
- Ensuring they are constructed, made of such materials and kept in such order as to be kept clean and, where necessary, disinfected, with the exception of non-returnable containers and packaging.
WRAPPING AND PACKAGING OF FOODSTUFFS
The EU Regulation also sets out the following specific provisions applicable to the wrapping and packaging of foodstuffs:
- Material used for wrapping and packaging are not to be a source of contamination.
- Wrapping materials are to be stored in such a manner that they are not exposed to a risk of contamination.
- Wrapping and packaging operations must be performed with the purpose of preventing product cross-contamination.
- Wrapping and packaging material re-used for foodstuffs is to be easy to clean, and, where necessary, to disinfect.
HYGIENIC DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS
We have previously discussed the important role flexible packaging plays in food safety and looked at the packaging-production specifications materials, such as plastic and paper, need to comply with to ensure harmful components are not transferred to food and ingested by people.
Hygienic design plays an important role in food safety. Read on to discover the key pillars of hygienic design:
1. CLEANING AND DISINFECTING
Hygienic design ensures fittings, equipment and surfaces can be adequately cleaned. It also offers companies cost savings in cleaning and disinfection operations.
Surfaces in direct contact with food must be resistant, smooth and free from any joints and fissures which could harbour dirt. Surface roughness must also be low.
3. PACKAGING MACHINARY
Packaging machinery is one example of equipment that must be accessible, easy to disassemble and allow for adequate drainage of liquids from foodstuffs and condensation.
Materials must be resistant to corrosion, hazard free, easy-to-clean and prevent microorganisms from spreading. In that respect, polymers are perfect for the food industry thanks to their properties.
MEASURES ADOPTED BY SP GROUP FOR A HYGIENIC DESIGN
At SP Group, we have adopted several measures to prevent contamination and ensure adherence to regulations.
We are accredited by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) with the BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials. This certification sets out best practices in safety and quality for packaging manufacturers and food operators.
We are continuously conducting research which yields results such as the sterilisation of digitally printed high-barrier materials. With this technology, we can draw on the benefits digital printing offers while ensuring packaging materials are sterilised for optimal conservation.
The environmental advantages of using adequate hygienic design can be appreciated in materials, such as our 100% biodegradable, compostable and bio-based BIO FSOL material. Or, with such initiatives as our circular economy project Tray2Tray. This project recycles and reuses both multi-layer PET packaging and complex-film packaging used as barrier packaging for food.
To prevent hygienic-design deficient equipment, fittings and materials from contaminating food, it is important that all food industry stakeholders apply hygienic design criteria. For more information on our projects, initiatives, materials and printing systems, visit our website or contact us. We would love to hear from you.