If your company is building a new food manufacturing facility, renovating a facility, or moving into an existing plant, it’s essential that you follow sanitary design principles and create a facility that mitigates food safety risks.

This blog from ImEPIK will look at sanitary design principles throughout the food industry and discuss why it’s important to look for problem areas in the sanitation of facilities and equipment.

Ten principles of sanitary design

The American Meat Institute released its list of 10 Principles of Sanitary Design more than a dozen years ago. The list is a template that companies throughout the food segment have promoted.

The ten principles are:

  1. Cleanable to a microbiological level
  2. Made of compatible materials
  3. Accessible for inspection, maintenance, cleaning, and sanitation
  4. No product or liquid collection
  5. Hollow areas should be hermetically sealed
  6. No niches
  7. Sanitary operational performance
  8. Hygienic design of maintenance enclosures
  9. Hygienic compatibility with other plant systems
  10. Validated cleaning and sanitizing protocols

Food processing environments favor pathogen growth

While retrofitting a food manufacturing facility to ensure sanitary design principles are met could carry more up-front costs, ignoring these factors could be significantly more expensive in the long run. Recurring water drainage issues, hard-to-clean equipment, and other sanitation issues will likely lead to biofilm formation. 

Pathogens, such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli, like wet environments. They can form a protective structure that is hard to break down and can withstand most sanitation attempts – aka biofilm. Biofilms and the pathogens they harbor are responsible for about 60% of foodborne illness outbreaks.

“The best way to prevent the formation of biofilm is to improve the sanitary design and eliminate harborage niches,” said Bob Forner, director of marketing for Sterilex, a company that markets sanitation products designed to eliminate the biofilm’s protective structure and the pathogens inside.

The plant that includes poor welds and “dead legs,” which are sections of a production system that are rarely or intermittently used, is at risk. In addition, you should always ensure that any materials that are in contact with food meet sanitary design standards and prevent the formation of biofilm. 

“Other harborage niches are much more capital-intensive to address,” Forner said. “That is where a preventative maintenance program with chemistry specifically designed to address biofilm comes in.”

Biofilms are invisible to the naked eye, but they can be detected with environmental sampling for pathogens in the food facility.

“One major indicator (of biofilm growth) would be finding high counts after sanitation,” said an FDA spokesperson. “Also, environmental monitoring programs for pathogens or their indicators to verify sanitation controls that repeatedly find positives in an area can suggest that the organisms are in a harborage site, which could include a biofilm.”

ImEPIK’s food safety training courses

ImEPIK has developed food safety courses to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act in the United States and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

A solid food safety plan incorporates the main principles of sanitary design. It also focuses on the current Good Manufacturing Practices that assure proper design, monitoring, and control of manufacturing processes and facilities.

Contact us via webchat to learn more about courses like PCQI Online.