This article originally ran in the June 2012 issue of Food Manufacturing.
From 2008 to 2011 bakery product recalls due to undeclared allergens have increased 360 percent. Over that same time span, microbiological recalls accounted for a quarter of total bakery recalls. These food safety statistics highlight the importance that food processing and packaging equipment design and installation play, especially in the ability to control microbiological and allergen contamination. Sanitary food equipment design and installation should prevent niches for microbial harborage, as well as points for food allergens to accumulate. These areas must be readily and easily accessible for cleaning and inspection to prevent food safety issues that could result in costly recalls. In addition, the proper design and installation should result in efficiencies that result in operational cost benefits.
In the early 2000s, the American Society of Baking (ASB) became the Secretariat for the Baking Industry Sanitary Standards Committee (BISSC) standard for the sanitary design of bakery equipment. This standard has been in existence for a number of years and needed to be updated and to become a consensus standard to become more acceptable to the industry. ASB converted the BISSC standard document to an ANSI standard. The document is now known as the ANSI/ASB Z50.2 American National Standard for Bakery Equipment — Sanitation Standards. In late 2010, several trade associations including the American Bakers Association (ABA), AIB International and Bakery Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds (BEMA) retained SAGE Food Safety Consultants, LLC to work with the Z50 Committee and facilitate the process of reviewing and updating the ANSI Z50.2 document.
With SAGE’s facilitation, several working groups were formed, each tackling individual sections of the equipment standard. Initially, the working groups focused on revising definitions and basic design principles. Next, the groups concentrated on specific equipment types within their areas of expertise.
In total, there were 68 working group conference calls over the span of nine months. Out of these conference calls, a document was generated with over 264 line changes. Obsolete sections were removed and another 50 sections were added to address new technologies and expand on what already existed in the document.
In February 2012, the revised draft of the standard was presented to the Z50 Committee, which then voted on the suggested changes. The draft revision was approved and is moving forward to the next step of public comment. During the public comment phase, individuals are welcome to review and comment on the document. All submitted comments must be addressed individually before the revised document can become an official standard. Jennifer Frankenberg of SAGE Food Safety Consultants, LLC commented, “This is a critical point in the process where we have the opportunity to improve this document through continued dialogue with the industry. I truly encourage everyone to participate by reviewing the document and submitting their comments.”
In the meantime, Jennifer says they are not sitting still – new working groups have already been formed to address different equipment types, such as robotics and control panels. One goal for the project is to encourage more bakers, sanitarians and regulatory officials to participate in the process to get a balanced perspective on what users need from equipment manufacturers to ease the cleaning process. “This is an ongoing process as we work with this 'living document' that requires constant updating to keep up with changing technology and industry needs. We have a lot of work ahead of us over the next couple of years. Our next goal is to submit another revision to the Z50 Committee early in 2013.”