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Food grade products for a hygienic production process

Hygienic design in the Food & Beverage Industry is essential in all areas of a plant including all stages of the production process. The use of the right materials like stainless steel and specially designed seals and connectors are necessary to limit the possibility of dirt pockets and microbes settling on the materials and being dispersed during clean down. Machines and equipment must be designed using the right materials and in a way that they are easy to access and clean. Although the importance of hygiene in the F&B Industry may seem evident, sometimes situations occur which result in food products having to be recalled from the market. It goes without saying that this is an undesirable situation from a hygienic point of view and has to be avoided at all costs.

In this blog we will discuss how Anamet Europe cable protection systems are deployed as part of a total approach to hygiene within a Food & Beverage production process. To start, we will explain why it is important to minimize the number of loose cables on machines and equipment as part of  a strategy to maximise hygiene. Next, we discuss the Anaconda Sealtite Food Grade protective cable protection system, which is specifically designed to meet industry guidelines. To round off, we will share some recommendations that will enable you to achieve the highest level of hygiene for cabling on your machines, equipment and production processes.

The art of omission; eliminating cables and air hoses

To minimise the probability that food and beverage manufacturers have to recall their products from the market and to guarantee, as far as is possible, consumer safety, the European Commission has developed a set of guidelines, protocols and rules for hygiene for the F&B industry. One general condition of these guidelines is that all components of a production line need to be accessible for cleaning. In the United States, similar guidelines are in place there. Minimising the number of loose cables (minimising cable trajectories) can play an important part in improving hygiene. By using a flexible cable protection system, several loose cables can be bundled together in a so called ‘multi cable conduit’. Over the past few years, flexible, hygienic cable protection systems have been developed which comply in full with the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) guidelines for hygienic cabling. These systems  are robust, reliable and sustainable and enable data, fibre optic  cables and non-electrical components like air/liquid hoses to be installed in a hygienically designed cable protection system.

An added advantage of reducing the number of cable trajectories is that the number of cable ties needed to secure individual cables is reduced. Less cable ties means less pockets of contamination forming where these cable ties would otherwise be installed; when a machine, piece of equipment,  production line and cable trajectory are hygienically designed, the amount of time and money expended on cleaning is significantly reduced as is downtime. The result is more cost efficient and sustainable machines and processes and, most importantly, better hygiene. In essence, by incorporating hygienic principles and recommendations at the in-design phase of a project, the higher the level of hygiene, the lower the risk of contamination within your production process and the fewer recalls from the market.

Flexible protective hoses in practice the best option to maximise hygiene

In 2015 the EHEDG established a Working Group (WG) consisting of representatives from the F&B industry in The Netherlands to make a guideline for hygienic cabling. To ensure a high degree of objectivity, a multi-disciplinary approach was considered the best way to proceed. Consequently,   representatives from food manufacturers, machine building companies, electrical installers, engineering bureaus, manufacturers of different components for cable trajectories and, last but not least, a cleaning company were invited to participate in the WG.

Drawing on their experience, know-how, ideas and expertise, the WG set about testing and comparing various options available to them, including loose cables, rigid pipes and several cables installed together in a flexible conduit. Their findings concluded that bundling several cables in a flexible protective conduit with matching fittings is the best solution from a hygienic perspective. Results showed that when a single conduit is used with several cables installed inside, fewer cable ties are needed which is beneficial from a cleaning point of view. The WG concluded that a single conduit with its fittings is much easier and quicker to clean and maintain than several loose cables with their numerous glands and cable ties resulting in a better to maintain and sustainable hygienic system. The results of these tests have been published by the EHEDG in a document titled A Practical Guideline for Hygienic Cabling in which a number of recommendations relating to safety and hygiene are outlined.

Anaconda Sealtite Food Grade (FG) protective conduit system

A protective conduit that meets all hygienic requirements of the food and beverage industry is Anaconda Sealtite (FG). This conduit is constructed as follows: it features a square locked metal core with cord packing for optimal flexibility and an FDA approved thermoplastic PVC jacket which is NSF certified. The conduit is easy to clean, with no outgassing of materials. The EHEDG certified fittings that accompany the conduit are hygienically designed too. They are smooth, have no grooves where dirt can settle and are also easy to clean: together with the Anaconda Sealtite FG conduit these food grade fittings form a truly state-of-the-art hygienic cable protection system that is suitable for both dry and wet cleaning. When dry cleaned, powders do not remain on the conduit jacket or fittings, particles simply drop off. Wet cleaning with steam, water or chemicals is also possible under controlled conditions.

Recommendations for hygienic machine and equipment cabling

In addition to using flexible protective conduits to bundle cables together, the following recommendations can be taken into account during the in-design process, in order to achieve the most hygienic production process possible.

1)     Create a full cabling program in the design phase

2)     Consider the cleaning conditions carefully

3)     Consider, in advance, which products will touch the cables

4)     Avoid cable ties, as these are ‘dirt traps’ and are not easy to clean

5)     Ensure cables are easily accessible e.g. not hidden behind or underneath a machine

6)     Check the chemical resistance of the cables

7)     Only use cable connector components (for example fittings) with an IP rating of IP66/67 or higher

8)     Work with hygienic multi connectors in combination with hygienic protective conduits

9)     Design everything from a hygienic point of view

Working with hygienic products as a foundation during the design will improve the hygienic performance of your machine, process and factory!

Downtime of the machines will be reduced because there will be less and faster cleaning. Even the cleaning interval can be reduced by starting off the first phase of the design with smart and well thought-through hygienic engineering. In this  way your machine, process and plant will function more efficiently and be more reliable and durable.

If you have any questions about how to optimise the hygienic design of cabling on your machines, equipment or process please contact Anamet Europe:

Anamet Europe B.V.
Galwin 5
1046 AW Amsterdam

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