Ensuring food safety should not increase food waste

HRS Heat Exchangers Australia New Zealand

By Matt Hale
Thursday, 25 July, 2019


Ensuring food safety should not increase food waste

Due to their organic nature, natural products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, fruits, vegetables and meat products are all subject to spoilage by bacteria and fungi. While maintaining good equipment hygiene through the use of effective protocols, such as semiautomated cleaning-in-place (CIP) systems, is essential, it is also economically important that usable products are not discarded as part of routine cleaning operations.

One in six Americans get sick from the food they eat, with up to 3000 people dying each year; a trend which has steadily increased since the late 1990s. This resulted in the Food Modernisation Act of 2011, a wide range of standards for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables, inspecting food production, improving food safety for consumers and mandating product recalls. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles are a legal requirement for meat and poultry plants, used in most sectors of the food and drink industry.

CIP systems are not labour-intensive, reducing costs and allowing frequent and effective routine cleaning of systems to be carried out. This helps maintain food safety and prevent the growth of microorganisms which could spoil products or pose a risk to health. CIP systems are useful for processing equipment, such as pipework, heat exchangers, pasteurisers, fillers and pumps. There are many different types of mechanical and automatic cleaners employed in the food industry, using everything from plain water or suitable cleaning chemicals, through to ultrasonic and UV cleaning techniques. However, before any CIP can be carried out, as much product as possible must be removed from the equipment to be cleaned.

Traditional flushing and ‘pigging’ systems (which physically push products through the system) are used but they often result in the loss of product, the value of which can soon add up. While processing incurs roughly 5% of the total losses from the food supply chain, the cumulative costs associated with the land, energy and fertiliser used could negatively impact the economy.

Food and drink businesses need to implement CIP regimes which meet all sanitary standards, while minimising the loss or damage of saleable products. The HRS R Series of scraped surface heat exchangers physically remove product without additional pigging systems. The R Series is suitable for heat transfer applications, enabling high-viscosity products to be pumped with reduced back pressure and lower energy use. The helical spiral scrapes the surface of the tubes to prevent fouling in normal use and can also be run in reverse, thereby enabling product to be recovered prior to routine cleaning or product changeover. This means that the HRS R Series can be emptied of the majority of product without additional pumps or pressure systems.

Monitoring by the HRS R Series helps validate the effectiveness of CIP and ensures that following a cleaning cycle, only product that meets specification is allowed to proceed. This ensures daily cleaning in the food industry is properly validated and recorded.

Advantages of recovering more product include less wastage, decreasing disposal costs such as storage, transport and treatment. The effectiveness of CIP and the requirements of HACCP analysis continue to be met, ensuring food safety for consumers.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Brooke Elizabeth Becker

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