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Tag Archive: Food Processing

  1. Process Cooling: The Salsa Cooling Challenge

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    A custom heat exchanger design allows a salsa manufacturer to effectively complete process cooling of the product and expeditiously clean-in-place between batches and shifts.

    California-based Southwest Thermal Technology was approached by one of its OEM customers to provide a shell-and-tube cooler to chill a client’s salsa prior to bottling. The request was more challenging than it sounds.

    The Challenge

    Because of the viscosity of the salsa — around 2,000 cP while warm and much thicker at 9,165 cP when cooled — turbulent flow was extremely difficult to achieve in the tubes of a shell-and-tube heat exchanger. The viscous salsa hindered efficient heat transfer. Typically, this situation is addressed by using a heat exchanger with more surface area while using a high volume of cooling water on the shell side of the heat exchanger. Such a design could achieve process cooling from 200 to 120°F (93 to 49°C).

    Southwest Thermal Technology wondered whether a more compact solution was possible. That’s when they reached out to Enerquip.

    After reviewing the problem, the engineers at Enerquip first considered a single, large heat exchanger that would perform well thermally. But the single large exchanger would be difficult to clean with the salsa maker’s clean-in-place (CIP) system. Typically, CIP works best when the cleaning solution can be circulated at 5 ft/sec or more. In a single, large exchanger, this would not be achievable.

    Of course, in food production environments, it is crucial to keep process equipment like shell-and-tube heat exchangers clean and sanitary. Regular CIP cleaning takes place between batches or shifts. This prevents cross-contamination of different products between batches and prevents unwanted bacterial growth that could contaminate food products.

    A New Approach

    The design team at Enerquip then developed a new approach. Process cooling of the salsa would occur by flowing through three smaller heat exchangers stacked in series. The salsa would pass from one heat exchanger to the next traveling through a sanitary jumper, which connected the outlet of the first exchanger to the inlet of the second exchanger, and likewise for the second-to-third exchanger connection. Meanwhile, the cooling water would flow counter-current from shell to shell, starting in the third exchanger, flowing through the second exchanger, and finally through the shell of the first unit.

    To realize this process cooling solution, three unique shell designs were created. They allowed the connecting flanges between each shell to be bolted together for the chilled water flow. Tube-side connections included an additional CIP connection on the first bonnet for the inlet and on the last bonnet for the outlet. CIP flow through the other bonnets used the jumper connections for the salsa to further reduce the piping costs and complexity.

    Enerquip Salsa Coolers – Stacked Set

    This design allowed for more efficient process cooling. In addition, the reduced exchanger size allowed the units to be cleaned effectively using the customer’s CIP system at 5 ft/sec flow through the tubes.

    Enerquip Salsa Cooler Enerquip Salsa Cooler

    Because of the acidity of the salsa, the salsa maker opted to use a higher stainless alloy for the tubes and other product-contact surfaces of the exchangers. While more expensive, super-austenitic stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion from acids and cleaning solutions.

    Another benefit of the three smaller, stacked exchangers over one larger exchanger was risk avoidance. If there was ever a tube failure in the single large exchanger, the customer would potentially be shut down completely during a repair, and the entire tube chest would need to be replaced. This would take months to achieve due to the lead-time on super-austenitic tubing. By using three smaller shell-and-tube heat exchangers in series, the salsa maker has equipment redundancy. Any of the units can be temporarily bypassed if there were a tube failure. Replacement of a smaller tube chest would be less than the cost of a single, larger one.

    Through this approach, the salsa maker was able to get more consistent process cooling and meet all the sanitary requirements for cleaning their equipment. As an added benefit, the company gained flexibility and redundancy while minimizing the risk of costly downtime.

    Article published in Process Cooling magazine: July 2019.

    Jim Peterson, Enerquip Sales Engineer

    Article Author: Jim Peterson, Enerquip Sales Engineer

    sales@enerquip.com

  2. Tips for preventing food recalls from your production facility

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    Sanitary

    How do you prevent food recalls? Shoppers trust that, when they put groceries into their carts and bring them home to eat, the food they’re buying is safe. As a food production company, it’s your responsibility to ensure the products you ship out from your facility are in good condition and safe for consumers.

    A few aspects of this are ensuring your process is designed to prevent and detect potential contamination, and that your equipment is adequate for the job and thoroughly cleaned.

    Prevent Food Recalls: Why is it Important?

    Mistakes can happen. Food products are recalled on a regular basis. Often, recalls have to do with undeclared allergens. Other times, contamination can lead to a dangerous situation that prompts a recall. Some of the most common foodborne illness-causing organisms include:

    • E. coli.
    • Listeria monocytogenes.
    • Salmonella.

    These organisms can cause severe illness or even death, and may be found in food or dairy products that aren’t properly prepared. An estimated 1 in 6 Americans contract a foodborne illness annually, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    It’s always important for companies to actively work to prevent food recalls, reduce the risk of food contamination, and report dangerous products as soon as they’re discovered.

    Food recalls are not only dangerous to consumers, but can also cost a business time, money and reputation. The average cost of a single product recall is $10 million, according to a study from The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute, Deloitte and GS1 US. That’s before lost sales and brand damage are taken into account.

    Prevent Food Recalls through Process Review

    If your process doesn’t support sanitary food production, you’ll always be at risk of a contamination. Since the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act came into effect, all companies who work with food products have completed a thorough process and equipment review and made any necessary changes where the operation put product at risk of contamination.

    Reviewing your process shouldn’t be a one-time task. It’s important to periodically review your systems and identify potential areas to improve. Conduct a vulnerability assessment, Global Food Safety Resource recommended. This can show you areas where your operations are most at risk.

    Regular inspections should be carried out, even during busy periods. During fast-paced production times, inspections may consist of simple visual reviews, which is fine in the short term. However, it’s important to follow these less detailed inspections with a more in-depth analysis later on.

    Investing in Sanitary Equipment

    The equipment you use plays a key role in product safety. There are two major factors that contribute to sanitary equipment: the features of the equipment itself (including materials and construction), and the continued maintenance and cleaning of them.

    Some basic sanitary equipment design principles include having smooth surfaces and rounded edges so product doesn’t get stuck in sharp corners, Food Quality and Safety noted. Equipment that’s easy to clean is also important.

    Stainless steel shell and tube heat exchangers meet these requirements. Straight tube designs have virtually no corners where product can get trapped and foul, and they’re simple to clean. U-tube models are a little bit trickier, but the rounded bend can be cleaned with the right process and equipment. Stainless steel in particular is a sanitary material because it’s resistant to contamination and fouling and is easy to clean.

    Cleaning in Place is a technique that allows for thorough cleaning without disassembling equipment or wasted water. CIP systems use shell and tube heat exchangers to run water, steam and/or cleaning chemicals through the equipment, recycling the liquid when it’s complete. CIP is both an effective and environmentally friendly way to keep equipment clean.

    Choosing a Sanitary Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger

    Just like it’s important to note the quality of standards of your food vendors, it’s equally critical to work with an equipment supplier that can be trusted to provide high-quality sanitary equipment. Your process is only as safe as your equipment allows.

    Cross-contamination is a common concern in food processing facilities, but it’s also possible for your equipment to be affected by cross-contamination if it comes into contact with materials that aren’t meant to be food grade, such as carbon steel. Enerquip takes cross-contamination concerns seriously, which is why their engineers don’t work with carbon steel. Additionally, your equipment can be constructed according to 3-A requirements and other sanitary regulations.

    Enerquip’s heat exchanger surfaces that will come in contact with products have surface finishes of 32Ra, though they can provide higher polished or electro-polished surfaces for hygienic applications.

    To learn more about Enerquip’s custom shell and tube heat exchanger design process, reach out to our helpful heat exchange experts. We’ll talk through your process and determine your unique needs to provide you the best unit for your company, to help you prevent food recalls and product contamination.

  3. Food Processing and Holiday Favorites

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    Do you know how food processing comes into play with your holiday favorites? The holiday season is marked by traditions, like family gatherings, gift-giving and, of course, seasonal foods people look forward to all year round. Treats like pumpkin pie, eggnog and cranberry sauce bring back memories of holiday feasts and large gatherings for many people. But do you know what it takes to place these traditional dishes on your table?

    Food processing and holiday favorites… here’s how these favorite wintertime dishes are processed:

    Eggnog

    Milk products sold in the U.S. must be pasteurized before being packaged and stocked on store shelves. Pasteurization is the process of heating the product to a temperature and for a length of time known to kill harmful organisms like E. coli, salmonella or Coxiella burnetii, which can cause Q fever in humans, according to Milk Facts.

    Eggnog is made by combining eggs with milk or cream. Both the eggs and the milk have the potential to contain dangerous bacteria. To offset the risk, the mixture needs to be heated to either 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes for large-batch vat processing, or 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 seconds for continuous high-temperature, short-time processing. Eggnog must be pasteurized to ensure it’s free of harmful bacteria.

    Canned pumpkin

    Did you know your pumpkin pie might be more like squash pie? According to the Food & Drug Administration, it’s perfectly acceptable for Cucurbita pepo as well as varieties of Cucurbita maxima to bemixed together in the can of delicious creamy pumpkin puree you poured into your pie shell this winter. The former is commonly called a field pumpkin and isn’t as bright as the jack-o’-lantern you carved for Halloween, while the latter is firm-shelled, golden-fleshed, sweet squash.

    Regardless of what’s technically in the can, there are two truths almost everyone can agree on: pumpkin pie is delicious, and it’s important that the ingredients are prepared safely to prevent foodborne illnesses. An important aspect in implementing controls in processing to prevent bacterial growth is knowing the product’s pH. Different pH levels contribute to varying levels of bacterial growth; lower acidity, found in Low-Acid Canned Foods, generally means the product isn’t required to go through a hazard analysisor be subject to risk-based preventative controls, according to the FDA. Foods that have a final acidity of more than 4.6are considered LACF; since pumpkin averages a pH of 4.9-5.5, it’s considered a LACF.

    A critical distinction between LACFs and high-acidity foods is thepotential for Clostridium botulinum the bacterium that can cause botulism to grow, according to William McGlynn, a food scientist at Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center. pH levels of less than 4.6 don’t allow for this dangerous spore to grow, which means that LACF’s must undergo intensive heat treatments to kill any spores. Pressure cooking inside the can is one effective way to rid the puree from harmful bacteria.

    As Forbes contributor Nadia Arumugam explained, the journey from field to can is a long onethat involves heavy-duty machinery to wash, sanitize, remove the stem, seeds and pulp, chop, steam, condense and finally mash the squash. Each of these steps is critical in creating that consistent texture you imagine when you think of pumpkin pie.

    Cranberry sauce

    While pumpkin has a low acidity, cranberries fall on the higher end of the scale, with cranberry sauce having an average pH of 2.4 and cranberry juice a pH of 2.3-2.5, according to the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center. While this may mean Clostridium botulinum has a very low chance of surviving in these environments, other toxins like salmonella can thrive in this level of acidity, and pasteurization is necessary to make sure they’re safe to consume.

    According to the FDA, fruit juices need to either be pasteurized or labeled with a warning messagestating that the product has not gone through a pasteurization processand could be a health risk to consumers, particularly those who have weak immune systems. As is dairy processing, heat pasteurization is a common practice among juices and fruit juice products.

    High-quality equipment matters

    When pasteurizing milk, fruit or vegetable products, it’s not just factors like temperature and process duration that makes a difference, but also the equipment in use. Some materials are naturally less prone to contamination than others.

    Stainless steel is one material that is well-suited for food processing because of its resistance to fouling, corrosion and pitting. Alloys that contain copper, which naturally has antimicrobial properties, can also be good choices for food processing equipment, according to Antimicrobial Copper. As such, stainless steel and copper alloys are commonly used in food processing operations.

    If your food processing plant is in need of new stainless steel shell and tube heat exchangers for your pasteurization process, reach out to the expertsat Enerquip.

  4. As frozen vegetable market expands, manufacturers must have adequate equipment

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    Vegetables are a staple in any healthy diet. They have key nutrients rarely found in other foods, and taste delicious with almost any meal.

    Fresh produce is delicious, but comes with some flaws. For one, it is seasonal, and when bought outside the natural growing season, vegetables can not only be pricey, but also lacking in flavor and color. Plus, fresh vegetables can expire quickly, giving consumers a limited time to enjoy their purchase.

    The answer to problems like this lies with frozen vegetables. Found in almost any grocery store in America, frozen veggies are not only widely available with a long shelf life, they are also often just as delicious as fresh ones, have the same nutritional value and are commonly more cost-effective.

    Consumers like it cold

    The frozen vegetable industry has grown significantly over the past half-decade. Currently, frozen fruits and vegetables comprise more than one-third of the fruit and vegetable processing industry, according to a report from IBISWorld.

    A number of factors have led to this expansion. For instance, many people have made a conscious effort to eat healthier, but the typical consumer is short on time for cooking. Frozen veggies offer a clear solution to this problem. Additionally, as the world’s middle class continues to grow, more people have access to freezers, allowing them to purchase and store frozen vegetables.

    The processed fruit and vegetable industry as a whole, which includes canned, dried and dehydrated pre-cut foods, pre-made meals and juices, is expected to grow 3 percent annually to $317.1 billion by 2021.

    As the industry continues to expand, and as more consumers show preferences for frozen vegetables, it’s crucial that manufacturers understand how to produce healthy and safe frozen products.

    How vegetables are frozen

    A consumer shopping in the frozen aisle of a typical grocery store may see printed on the side of a package a note boasting that the product inside was frozen just hours after picking. While this is likely true, there’s more to the process than the average consumer might expect.

    How Products Are Made broke down the manufacturing process of peas, a popular frozen vegetable. One of the key steps to the process, after picking and washing but before freezing, is the blanching.

    Blanching is the process of heating up a vegetable but not exactly cooking it. This is necessary for frozen vegetables because it eliminates enzymes and bacteria that could cause problems for consumers.

    PennState Extension explained that blanching also protects the flavor, texture and color of the vegetables. Plus, it shrinks the vegetables and removes air pockets, so more can fit into one bag and they take up less space.

    After blanching, the vegetables need to be cooled before being sorted, inspected and, finally, frozen.

    Turning up the heat

    Blanching requires vegetables to reach a certain temperature for a set period of time in order to inactivate destructive enzymes. According to Food Processing: Principles and Applications, the typical requirements in commercial blanching state that vegetables need to be brought to 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 degrees for a warm blanch, according to the Oregon Institute of Technology Geo-heat Center. In both cases, the potato is then cooled to 100 degrees.

    It’s important that frozen vegetable manufacturers know the specific requirements of the foods they are working with. But it’s also crucial that they know what kinds of equipment can help them safely and quickly achieve this state while also being conscious of cost.

    Shell and tube heat exchangers can be used in several capacities in these instances. First, they can be used to warm or cool the heating medium to prepare the food for blanching.

    Second, they can be used for heat recovery. In processes like blanching, heat and energy is given off and lost during the process, but a shell and tube heat exchanger can help capture it and reuse it elsewhere. It can even be used to continue to heat the water needed to blanch the vegetables.

    For information about how shell and tube heat exchangers can improve your vegetable processing operation, talk to the experts at Enerquip. Our team of engineers can work with you to find the perfect solution for your needs.

  5. Enerquip meets 3A Sanitary Standards

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    Enerquip is a leading supplier of sanitary shell and tube heat exchangers. We ensure 3A sanitary standards for construction and cleanability.

    Whether you need an off-the-shelf U-tube unit or a custom straight tube design, Enerquip provides the surface finish, seamless tubing, weld quality and FDA approved elastomers required to give you the peace of mind that your 3A exchangers are in full compliance with sanitary standards.

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  6. Food and beverage industry will have to adjust to new rules

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    The U.S Food and Drug Administration recently began implementing the rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act, with the final rules going into effect on August 31, according to the Food Processing Suppliers Association. Plus, this past December, Congress announced that $2.72 billion of the $1.1 trillion-spending bill granted to the federal government for the remainder of the year would go toward the FDA, Food Safety News reported. A portion of this would be
    dedicated to food safety activities

    The forward steps the government is taking with FSMA represent a positive change for the food industry. According to Food Manufacturing, 48 million Americans get sick as a result of foodborne illnesses – that’s almost 15 percent of the U.S. population. The implementation of the FSMA rules will put more emphasis on accountability and could reduce preventable food-related illnesses. Plus, the money Congress granted the FDA will help to move the process along.

    “The FSMA rules will put more emphasis on accountability.”

    “We are thrilled,” Sandra Eskin, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ director of food safety, said to Food Safety News. “Congress understands that this is a pivotal year for FSMA implementation and they responded accordingly.”

    Adjusting to the new rules

    Though the progress is good for consumers and companies alike, it also means many people will have to change the way their businesses are run. According to Food Safety News, one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the rule is actually knowing where exactly food is coming from

    Food is often supplied to a restaurant or other food service operation through distributors or brokers who promised confidentiality to their supplier clients. Because of this, it is difficult to know what happened to food before it reached the buyer. Despite the obstacles, having this information is crucial, especially when dealing with products commonly associated with pathogens like Listeria, E. coli or Salmonella. Food Manufacturing explained traceability works two ways; Companies are also responsible for knowing where the food they work with is going.

    Businesses are advised to make a list of their suppliers and what risk factors they have. For instance, a company that deals with non-risky ingredients – those that aren’t commonly associated with illness and have a good track record – would be on the non-hazardous list. On the other hand, companies that deal with risky foods or have a history of foodborne illness problems should be watched more carefully. If the company is risky enough, a buyer may even want to cut ties with it.

    Traceability software is widely available to companies big and small. This can help keep track of various suppliers and aid them in making decisions moving forward.

    Taking accountability

    There are many steps throughout the food-processing supply chain and FSMA affects all of them. It encourages everyone to be accountable for their contribution to the chain, and that means knowing where food is coming from and where it is going. Now that the rules are fully implemented, companies should not only pay attention to how food is handled before and after it reaches them, but also what they can do in their own facility to make sure to improve their own reputation.

    “Not knowing how to prevent fouling can damage a company’s reputation.”

    Using the proper equipment and knowing how to maintain it to decrease risk of contamination is crucial. For instance, proper surface finishes and effective cleaning protocols are critical to the sanitary safety of process equipment. Many companies in the food and beverage industry use shell and tube heat exchangers as a way to pasteurize products, such as dairy or craft beer. However, not knowing how to handle or prevent fouling can seriously hurt their products and, in some cases, damage their reputation.

    Adding too much heat too quickly could bake the product onto the insides of the tubes, leading to cross contamination or fouling. It could also change the color or flavor of the product – something companies in the food industry need to avoid. A feature that can help with this is an annular distributor, which administers steam evenly throughout the exchanger. This prevents uneven heating and pocketing overheating within the exchanger.

    Finding cost-effective solutions, such as the annular distributor, can help companies take part in a greater effort to decrease foodborne illnesses while also boosting their reputation among buyers.

    To learn more about how custom features like annular distributors can help improve your food processing company, talk to Enerquip’s heat exchanger experts at the Northwest Food & Beverage Distributors Expo & Conference

  7. New processing method creates better-tasting tomatoes

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    flavor A simple and inexpensive hot water bath could drastically change the flavor.

    If you’ve ever bought regular tomatoes from the grocery store, you might have had a few you’ve considered to be bland or flavorless. This notion is not uncommon in grocery stores since the majority of tomatoes come from the farm not fully ripened and green, which leaves them to turn red once they are already stored.

    This process can have tomatoes tasting boring before you even pick them out of the bin at the supermarket. In fact, chilling tomatoes has been found to degrade the flavor of these fruits and the overall quality, Gizmag reported.

    However, a new discovery from plant physiologist Jinhe Bai​ and a team of scientific researchers, found that better-tasting tomatoes could actually be a very simple fix.

    According to the researchers, adding a hot water treatment to tomatoes before they are chilled for storage and shipment increases the flavor of the fruit, Quartz magazine reported. The researchers tested green tomatoes from Florida by dipping the fruit in hot water – approximately 125 degrees Fahrenheit – for five minutes and by letting them cool at room temperature.

    “To produce a better tasting tomato, we added a hot water pre-treatment step to the usual protocol that growers follow,” Bai said. “We found that this pre-treatment step prevents flavor loss due to chilling.”

    Bai also worked with researchers from the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service to test the tomatoes.

    Counterbalancing preservatives and chemicals

    To keep tomatoes on the shelves longer, it’s no secret that chemicals are used to help the fruits ripen. However, these chemicals tend to deter the flavor of tomatoes. But the hot bath has proven to enhance flavor compounds.

    The very simple alteration to the tomatoes is completed before they are shipped, which produces more enhanced smells as well. Bai explained that the heat treatment regulates the ripening enzymes in the tomatoes and activates the production of a protein that can help prevent cell decay on the fruit.

    “Chilling suppresses production of oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur-containing heterocyclic compounds, ketones, alcohols and aldehydes, including 13 important aroma components of tomato flavor,” Bai added. “But hot water-treated fruit actually produced higher concentrations of these important aroma contributors, even with subsequent chilling.”

    Heat exchangers in processing plants

    The team of researchers is still testing different stages of the tomatoes to determine the absolute best timing for the heat treatment process. Bai believes this will be the best method of action before offering these solutions to tomato processing plants. Some of the researchers’ tests used methyl salicylate​, which is wintergreen oil, instead of hot water to treat the tomatoes, Science 2.0, reported.

    The whole purpose is to help enhance the flavor of tomatoes, but to also provide a better solution to shipping the fruits. Since hundreds of thousands of tomatoes are shipped from the farm each day, processors could use the heat treatment to send more reliable products. Bai hopes the heat treatment process will take off and become a standard in tomato processing. The researcher even believes the adaptation could eliminate the need to chill tomatoes to begin with.

    As the heat treatment testing continues, processors should prepare their facilities with the most up to date shell and tube heat exchangers to help with heat treatment. This equipment can treat tomatoes before they are sent out for shipment, which ultimately provides a better product from the farmers.

  8. Why equipment design is critical in the processing industry

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    Industrial equipment can be as small as a trash can or as large as dump truck. And when it comes to installing this equipment into a facility, a lot hinges on the size and overall design of the equipment.

    If equipment is too large, valuable space could be wasted with oversized parts. Additionally, if it’s too small, certain equipment can fail or cause errors because it’s trying to do too much.

    According to Fast Company, functionality is the ultimate purpose for all industrial equipment. Simply put, if equipment cannot function properly, productivity, efficiency and safety are all at risk. Also, the placement of equipment is essential because each location in a facility creates different nuances.

    For example, in a food processing plant, the last thing a facility manager would want is to have the final packaging zone near the processing station. Airborne contaminants and other microorganisms could end up on finalized products before they go out for shipment.

    Layout is critical in nearly all processing facilities. And if the equipment is not designed correctly, facility managers could have more problems on their hands with maintenance, throughput and safety issues.

    Understanding the physical properties and clearances of fixed equipment

    In any design or redesign process within a facility, plant operators have to consider the physical properties and clearances of fixed equipment. For example, certain areas of the plant have to be dedicated to fixed equipment, or machines that will not move in their lifespan at the facility.

    For shell and tube heat exchangers, plant operators should know where to best place this equipment for functionality and safety reasons. This fixed equipment is often connected to the building or to a permanent connection to the building’s heating system, Lab Design News reported. Enough clearance must be provided for inspecting and cleaning tubes and replacing gaskets or bundles.

    With this type of equipment, modifications to the facility and its systems are required when moving the machinery to a new location.

    Designed for sanitation

    Another important factor in equipment design is how it’s built to handle sanitation. One of the most common bacterium found in cold or wet places within a processing facility is Listeria the North American Meat Institute reported. The bacterium grows from damp areas in the building or within the equipment over time. And once these microorganisms enter the equipment, if they are not cleaned, they will last through the production process.

    Listeria is a dangerous and sometimes fatal bacteria that can affect pharmaceutical or food manufacturing. Products such as meat, cheese, dairy, nuts and other protein products are highly susceptible to Listeria in the food processing industry.

    Since contaminated products can be dangerous for consumption, shell and tube heat exchangers, which can kill bacteria and make the products edible, need to go through thorough cleanings to ensure safety. The design of a shell and tube heat exchanger can mean all the difference for a facility operator depending on what product they are giving heat treatment to.

    Additionally, for shell and tube heat exchangers, the equipment has to be able to handle multiple cleanings. Since these cleanings use highly acidic solutions, most new heat exchangers are built out of stainless steel to limit bacteria growth and handle more powerful cleanings. With cleaner equipment, facilities can reduce downtime and increase overall efficiency.

    Battling airflow problems

    It’s not uncommon for older or out-of-date equipment to experience airflow problems. According to the NAMI, equipment design can make the difference between clean equipment and machinery that harbors bacteria, allowing it survive, reproduce and grow.

    “A more open airflow design allows for better cleaning processes.”

    With a more open design to industrial equipment, airflow can limit the growth of bacteria. Additionally, a more open airflow design allows for better cleaning processes.

    It’s also important to know that cleaner equipment helps prevent recalls where items have been found with bacteria. While most people only think this affects food and dairy industries, chemical, pharmaceutical and gas processing facilities can also have their products affected by bacteria growth in the equipment.

    Working with a trusted partner

    In all, the equipment design plays a critical role to how sanitary and safe the facility and the products are in the plant. Working with a trusted shell and tube heat exchanger provider can help facilities with their equipment design and facility layout to improve efficiency.

  9. The importance of food safety in processing plants

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    Food safety is one of the most important aspects for processing plants around the nation. Each year, facilities try to prevent any food illness outbreaks or bacterial contamination by following the strictest sanitary regulations, but sometimes facilities lack awareness of the simplest safety measures.

    More awareness on organic products

    For food processing facilities, there’s a lot of emphasis on creating healthy, nutritional and safe products for consumers. The organic market in the U.S. has completely skyrocketed in the last decade as more consumers look for healthier products. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, organic products are sold in approximately 20,000 natural food stores

    Additionally, organic products are now offered in roughly 3 of 4 standard grocery stores, and overall organic sales accounts for 4 percent of the total food sales in the country. With the demand for organics only rising, food processing plants have to put more emphasis on safe, healthy and nutritious products.

    The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee claimed processed food is anything other than a raw agricultural commodity, which is most prepackaged or canned foods. The committee added that processed foods typically undergo chemical or mechanical operations to preserve the food items and keep them safe for consumers.

    Since organic food items have increasingly become a large portion of Americans’ diets, the attention paid to creating a safer product is critical for any food processing plant. According to the Albuquerque Journal, food processing prevents items from spoiling through canning, drying, freezing, or self-curing methods.

    The importance of heat

    One of the most important steps to performing these processing methods is heat, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Food processing facilities depend on heat treatment equipment such as shell and tube heat exchangers to kill harmful microbes and to deactivate plant enzymes that would make the food spoil.

    However, there’s a fine line between heating a food item to kill microbes and ruining the taste or texture of the product. According to the source, if the heating process is performed improperly, the food product can severely lose nutritional value. Vitamins and nutrients are an essential part of why people consume food and too much heat can ruin these elements.

    Need for custom heat exchangers

    Custom shell and tube heat exchanger equipment is vital for keeping the maximum nutrients in a food product through the processing method without allowing harmful bacteria to grow. Because each food product is unique in its own way, facility operators need to use custom equipment that ideally works better with the type of food product being processed. Custom heat exchangers give processing plants more options for heat treatment on different products rather than standard equipment that is only supposed to be used on certain items.

    Creating safer products

    The demand for safer products can be addressed with new equipment such as custom shell and tube heat exchangers to create safer products. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency enforces food processing facilities to have a control plan if they handle any one of the eight major food allergens. These products include: fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, soybeans, tree nuts, peanuts and wheat.

    To create the maximum level of safety in processing plants, facilities must then address six key issues:

    • Training and supervision to make sure all employees in the facility are up to date on hygiene and contamination issues.
    • Separating food items in storage and handling processes to limit cross contamination in other food products in the facility.
    • Updating cleaning procedures so equipment is completely fit for food processing.
    • Acknowledging all cross contamination issues within the facility to ensure products are handled in appropriate areas.
    • Making sure all items are properly labeled with appropriate allergens or USDA guidelines.
    • Implementing a supplier control program to ensure all ingredients are properly labeled on the food item.
  10. 5 tips to help prevent contamination in food processing facilities

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    Food processing plants have to maintain the upmost standards when properly handling food products for consumers. Anything from airborne debris to facility moisture can form harmful bacteria that could ultimately affect the end product.

    There are ways to prevent contamination and cross contamination in processing facilities. Here are five tips to keep food facilities safe:

    1. Keep ramps and carts clean

    The majority of methods to keeping a food processing facility safe are through sanitation. Every food facility operations manager wants to keep their plant as safe as possible from contamination, but sometimes it’s easy to forget or not know which parts are most necessary to clean.

    Pat Hottel, technical director for McCloud Services, a leader in pest management solutions, explained that ramps used to move carts with organic and nonorganic products need to be properly cleaned and dried to prevent excess moisture.

    This also applies to carts and rampways that enter and exit the freezer as well. According to the Australian Department of Health, bacteria are simply dormant when food items are frozen. When items are refrigerated, they are only paused for a few days or weeks before they grow bacteria.

    However, in freezing conditions, food processing facilities have to still clean freezer areas to kill bacteria since chemicals and heat are the only two methods to removing bacteria growth.

    2. Color code brushes and buckets

    To prevent cross contamination, brushes and buckets used in food processing facilities should be color coded to make it easier for clean up a sanitation operating procedure report from Penn State Berkey Creamery stated.

    One color should be used to clean pasteurized food contact surfaces, while another should be used to clean nonfood contact surfaces. Additionally, the creamery said a third color should be used to clean surfaces with raw milk products and the last color should only be applied for floor drain cleaning.

    This changes per food item at each plant, but bucket and brush protocols should be very similar.

    3. Clean all equipment and machinery

    This might seem like a no-brainer for food processing plant operators, but all equipment and machinery must be cleaned to prevent contamination, Food Quality and Safety reported. Refrigeration equipment, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, contact surfaces, drains, plant equipment, and shell and tube heat exchangers need to be properly cleaned to prevent outbreaks.

    Using stainless steel shell and tube heat exchangers and other equipment helps protect against bacterial contamination because the alloy can handle intense cleaners and daily cleanings. Stainless steel equipment is easily cleaned and it will last much longer than other metal equipment products.

    4. Ensure workers are healthy

    Food handling in processing facilities requires a lot of human interaction with items that could get contaminated if someone were sick or infected the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported. Additionally, food handling employees should not be at work if they are sick, vomiting, have diarrhea or are showing symptoms of a sore throat or fever.

    When workers are healthy and safe around food products, the chance of contamination is further limited. Just like food processing equipment, employees must keep sanitized by washing their hands and wearing clean clothes.

    5. Make sure products are heated with appropriate equipment

    One of the biggest problems food processing facilities have with contamination issues is properly heating food products to the right temperature, the PSU report stated. Facilities need the right shell and tube heat exchanger to heat products to adequately kill the bacteria.

    Many operators believe any heat exchanger will do the job, but there are specific variables such as the type of product, the heating requirements and the amount of products being made, that all factor into the equipment size. Speaking with a heat exchanger professional could get a processing plant on the right track.