Washdown checkweighing series minimises bacterial contamination risks in food manufacturing

The new washdown resistant checkweighers withstand the most rigorous cleaning procedures in food production ensuring weighing accuracy and upholding the highest hygiene standards.

Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection has launched a new series of washdown resistant checkweighers for precision weighing applications in food manufacturing environments. The new equipment series is specifically designed for use in applications which require stringent cleaning processes that use caustic cleaning agents to combat bacterial contamination risks, without compromising their weighing accuracy.

The ideal applications for the new washdown checkweighers include meat, fish and seafood processing. Dairy products, baked goods and ready meals are also highly suited as, during the food production processes, liquid product ingredients could spill over and contaminate conveyor belts, or other parts of the machinery, which have direct or indirect contact with the product.

The new Washdown Checkweighers series feature sloped surfaces to discourage liquid and debris collection, avoiding bacterial contamination risks, while conveyor belts can be removed quickly and easily for efficient cleaning. The series also features an open frame design with only four feet on the floor, which provides easy access for washdown purposes.

The systems are IP69 tested and are resistant to most caustic detergents and disinfectants in line with the ECOLAB Material Compatibility Test. This includes the checkweighers’ touchscreens, which do not need to be removed or covered during cleaning procedures, resulting in reduced downtime for regular cleaning processes.

While maintaining the highest safety and hygienic standards, the new checkweighers are also built with Mettler-Toledo’s well-known precision technology and reliable design. As with other Mettler-Toledo series, the washdown checkweighers adhere to global weighing regulations and the Measuring Instruments Directive (MID). The series also comply with regulations governing conveyor materials expected to come into contact with food, including Regulation (EC) 1935/2004 and Regulation (EU) 10/2011, which supports the customer in their need to meet US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards.

“In the food production industry, there is nothing more crucial than keeping consumers safe from contamination – bacterial or otherwise,” said Dr. Jürgen Kress, general manager at METTLER TOLEDO Garvens. “It is extremely important that production equipment is able to stand up to the rigorous cleaning routines required to maintain a hygienic environment without sacrificing accuracy.”

The Washdown Checkweigher series include the following two new lines:

C33 PlusLine washdown checkweigher – robust performance
A combination of reliable weighing accuracy with rugged machine design, the C33 PlusLine delivers high precision weighing in harsh environments. The system’s design makes cleaning and maintenance very simple, with easy dismantling and reassembly of system conveyors, and self-adjusting elastic belts that remove the need for tensioning. If needed, cleaning with the parts in place is possible in most set-ups, while the flip-up design of the conveyors allows easy access to all critical areas for cleaning routines.

The C33 PlusLine features a 1-inch touchscreen monitor positioned at the front of the system to ensure worker safety. This is also IP69 rated which means that it does not need to be covered or removed during cleaning. The system provides key runtime data and statistics in over 30 languages, with additional accessibility and ease-of-use options available.

C35 AdvancedLine washdown checkweigher – precision and versatility
Built for harsh environments, the C35 delivers precise weighing results on a stable weighing platform resistant to high-pressure washdown and most caustic detergents. The system frame is designed according to outlined hygienic principles, with easy access for cleaning and sloped surfaces to discourage liquid collection. The system supports speeds of up to 250 packs per minute and a weighing range from 25g to 7kg.

The C35 also reduces maintenance-related downtime through easy dismantling – it takes less than a minute to remove the driving unit completely with the minimal use of tools. Its 15-inch touchscreen interface is also fully washable along with the rest of the system. The weighing software supports IoT/Industry 4.0 initiatives using open interfaces such as OPC UA, Pack ML and Fieldbus.

To help food manufacturers select a suitable precision checkweigher for harsh production environments, METTLER TOLEDO has produced a free eGuide detailing 7 Points to Understand Hygienic Principles. To download this click here.

Proactive safety with SmartWasher

When a large trans-Tasman dairy facility bought eight of CRC Industries’ SmartWasher Bioremediating Parts Washing Systems, it was able to eliminate the use of harsh, solvent-based cleaners alongside all the associated risks that come with them, reducing the company’s liability and achieving better cleaning efficiencies.

“Its just a matter of time before everyone goes down this path,” CRC business development manager of the APAC region, Steve Colson, said. “All the big guys use it, and that has a lot to do with simplifying workplace OH&S compliancy.”

CRC’s SmartWasher exceeds standards in this regard. Colson said that the CRC SmartWasher requires less personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Customers were mostly driven to make the change to our SmartWasher because of bad reactions to parts washer solvents on their skin,” Colson said. “With the SmartWasher, all you need is gloves, rather than the full gamut of chemical gloves, protective aprons and breathing devices.

“Solvent-based cleaners expose people to skin irritants and vapours, create toxic liquid waste and you end up trying to clean parts with a filthy liquid and then dispose of all that hazardous waste.”

The CRC SmartWasher uses a pH neutral, non-hazardous, non-flammable water-based cleaning solution, and allows for the washing of parts at a comfortable 42 degrees. It also exceeds standards in regards to the environment.

The SmartWasher has been named a ‘Safer Choice product’ by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a certification granted once all ingredients have been analysed in order to determine there are no harmful effects to humans.

Distributor of CRC Industries products, BSC has been supplying to the food and beverage industry since 1921.

“We’re right on board with this revolutionary component cleaning system from the get-go taking these units to some of Australia leading dairy, biscuit and raw produce processing plants,” said BSC’s national product manager, lubricants, Steve Keown.

According to Keown, the facilities were drawn to the product because they take climate responsibility seriously and the CRC SmartWasher is an environmentally friendly product, which is something that the distributor also takes seriously.

“People want to use safer and more environmentally responsible parts washers and to show their customers they are dealing with waste responsibly,” he said.

Through the process of bioremediation, the SmartWasher is self-cleaning, as well as safe to use. In this instance, bioremediation is the use of microbes to break down or neutralise hazardous substances and contaminants, removing dangerous chemicals in the environment.

Colson said that microbes are introduced every month to keep the SmartWasher colony at optimal strength, breaking down cheese, chocolate and dairy fat. CRC Industries names its blend of nonpathogenic (harmless to humans) microbes in the SmartWasher system “Ozzy”.

“Solvents attack deposits from the outside whereas a surfactant breaks the bond between the part and the dirt, so it lifts off rather than dissolves. That means the SmartWasher’s cleaning action looks different, but it can dislodge deposits some solvents won’t touch.”

Ozzy microbes also eat the potentially harmful waste in the SmartWasher and then transform it into small quantities of harmless by-products of carbon dioxide and water, eliminating the need for disposing mass amounts of used fluid, as well as being safe to use.

A similar process has been used in the clean up of dangerous oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in March of 1989 and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April 2010.

According to Colson, there is 3.3kg of inert solid waste to dispose of a year with the SmartWasher compared to 377kg of hazardous waste – plus disposal fees – for solvents changed every six weeks. The SmartWasher compares favourably to simpler, water-based units as well as the solvent cleaners. For example, there’s no need to change the liquid in a SmartWasher, just the filter mat once a month in order to keep the microbe colony strong and effective. The filter traps larger particles and the emulsified waste drops into the tank where microbes consume it at the rate of 1-2 litres per week.

The Ozzy formula has been refined and improved over the years, and CRC will continue to apply research and development to further enhance the product.

Food manufacturing cleaning: best practices

In hospitality and food manufacturing environments, cleanliness is essential, especially in an era where traceability is coming under more scrutiny. However, many production floor managers and hospitality staff find it difficult to set up a cleaning process that is cost-effective, efficient, and gets the job done.

There are many cleaning challenges that face food and beverage manufacturers and processors, but there are also solutions that can make sure a factory is kept up to scratch in the cleanliness stakes.

Ensuring health and safety standards are met
When working with food, it is important to prioritise cleanliness and food safety at all times. Unlike some environments where it is possible to clean up at the start or end of the shift, a workspace needs to be clean and hygienic round the clock.

Different spaces that have different cleaning needs
It is important to realise that different spaces have different cleaning requirements, whether it is a large open floor area, small space with tight corners – or a mixture of both.

Plus, it might be necessary to deal with a range of floor types – from smooth-coated flooring and concrete to tiles (with or without grout), bricks, stone, slate, and more. This is an important consideration when choosing cleaning equipment and machinery.

Cleaning needs to happen during operating hours
Most food manufacturing and hospitality environments deal with long opening hours, continuous production, and even 24/7 service. That usually involves cleaning with customers and/or staff in the area. This means they need to carefully consider how they can make the area safe and minimise slippage/fall risks.

Many food manufacturers operate at a large scale with hundreds of staff. That can come with extra challenges – they’ll need to identify who is in charge of the cleaning, then ensure proper training, accountability, and machine care.

A lot of the time, the staff who are responsible for cleaning also have other responsibilities and demands on their time, such as serving customers or working on the production line.

They need to be able to work efficiently when cleaning so they can also keep on top of other areas.

Budget constraints
Most hospitality and food manufacturing organisations have a lot of expenses – rent, wages, materials, ingredients, suppliers, and equipment.

In some cases, it’s not an option to hire dedicated cleaning staff, or increase hours so existing staff can improve cleanliness.

Hospitality environment cleaning best practices and solutions
What’s the answer to the above challenges? Most of the time, it comes down to improving cleaning practices and using the best available technology.

The best cleaning technology
The best way to boost efficiency and effectiveness, and get a better clean done in the same amount of time (or less) is with better cleaning technology.

For example, a food production factory might replace its existing mop and bucket setup for a walk-behind scrubber.

That means they could potentially get a better job done in less time (meaning less wages to pay) with less chemicals and water (meaning improved safety).

Tracking technology

One way to improve accountability in large organisations is with smarter technology that tracks equipment operation, maintenance, and location.

With Tennant’s IRIS Asset Manager, you can see how a machines is being used, where they are located, and whether they are being properly maintained.

Cleanliness tests

Another way to improve food manufacturing cleanliness is with regular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) tests.

ATP is a type of molecule that exists in or around living cells, which (if present) can be an indicator of unsanitary or contaminated surfaces.

It is a good idea to conduct regular cleaning audits to ensure all surfaces are being properly cleaned and also try and identify areas that need improvement.

Safer methods

One of the biggest safety risks with regular cleaning (especially with staff/customers around) is slippery/wet floors. The best way to reduce this risk is to minimise slipping with methods that use less water and/or self-dry.

Tennant’s scrubber-dryers use minimal water and come with built-in drying mechanisms. Plus, users can choose the battery-operated version to remove the risk of tripping over cords.

Another benefit of reducing water usage in floor cleaning is users can avoid getting water or floor cleaning solution on surrounding equipment, which can be damaging.

Good operational procedures

A lot of cleaning challenges can be solved by reviewing operational procedures, including cleaning schedules.

Create a clear schedule that ensures everything is cleaned regularly and on time.

Create a checklist to ensure that the most important cleaning processes happen continually throughout the day, as needed, to keep operation lines safe and clean.

Better training

Help people know what to do and how to do it for a safer, more effective clean.

This goes with all cleaning processes, but especially cleaning equipment.

Tennant’s  touch screen ProPanel comes with built-in training features to help onboard a team and guide them through the steps to use and maintain your equipment.

Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre offers all-in-one solution for allergen testing

For almost four decades Romer Labs has been listening to the needs of customers in Australia, New Zealand, and the entire APAC region by delivering innovative diagnostic solutions for the food and beverage industry. Romer  Labs realised that its customers were interested in three core areas – analytical services, technical support and customer training.

Romer Labs has established itself in the region for providing accredited mycotoxin analytical services, which is expanding in the form of multi-mycotoxin analysis 50+. This means a single report can give specific information on more than 50 mycotoxins that can be present in any one sample.

In response to demand from countries like Australia, the company has also integrated full-service food allergen testing facilities into its analytical offerings. It will serve the region with analytical services that cover gluten testing and the broadest range of allergenic analytes on the market including specific nut species.

To complement these new capabilities, the Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre provides enhanced technical support, such as sample validation, troubleshooting and insight into best practices to Romer Labs’ customers.

The APAC Solutions Centre is bringing a new service to the region in the form of customised training programs, which includes workshops and webinars. It is designed to adapt to when, where and how often customers test. Romer Labs issues training certificates and other documentation that may be necessary for audits and accreditations.

Both Australia and New Zealand have stringent regulations on allergenic content in food. With its new centre, Romer Labs can provide these products to businesses who do not have access to analytical services. It can also help those customers who need training programs to help them stay efficient and compliant.

For analytical testing services, customers can expect to receive their test results in five business days for food allergen testing and six business days for mycotoxin testing. These turnaround times are based on the date of receipt of samples in the company’s laboratory. For an extra cost, customers can receive their results within a day. Customers are emailed their analytical test results in a certificate of analysis. Other communications can be directed to the APAC Solutions Centre or through a local sales representative.

Technical support is another primary service provided by Romer Labs. At times, the Centre collaborates with industry bodies for seminars or webinars to help professionals keep up with the latest trends in food safety and analysis.

Romer Lab clients include government and independent commercial consulting laboratories as well as global food manufacturers who it has helped to verify results for specific matrices that proved problematic.

One food manufacturer producing food coatings and spices used Romer Labs’ allergen test kits with positive results. A technical specialist from the Centre was engaged to examine the matter; the analysis of samples from a similar batch confirmed the results. Following discussions with the customer, the technical specialist suspected that the source of the allergen was the ingredients that were supplied to them. Tests performed on several batches of the goods confirmed this original suspicion. The company was satisfied with the result and has used the test kits on several other occasions for in-house testing.

Customers have also received technical training from Romer Labs on how to improve their capabilities for detecting ergot alkaloids using LC-MS/MS. The Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre provided them with hands-on training in the method, and staff showed them how to apply Biopure reference materials and clean-up columns for use in their own laboratories. This is one example of customised training programs that help customers keep their food supply chain safe.





Ecowize promotes food safety practices with its colour-coded products

If you are in the food processing industry, there’s no situation where a company wants to run the risk of cross contamination of different food stuffs.

Getting food poisoning from contaminated food can be avoided if the right precautions are implemented.

While consumers can minimise cross contamination in their homes, it is reassuring when they know factories also have quality safety precautions in place.

Simple steps, such as buying colour-coded cleaning equipment, can help a company avoid mishaps that could put them out of pocket when items are recalled, have to be thrown away before they hit the shelves, or they cannot go to partners who need that valuable ingredient to bring their product to the market.

It is also an easy solution for employees who gain from having an uncomplicated cleaning system.

Ecowize makes the cleaning process easier by offering colour-coded cleaning equipment. Red can be used for one room and blue in the next – helping to minimise health and safety risks and the aforementioned cross-contamination.

While this seems like a logical solution, it can be difficult to find good-quality equipment that will last when used daily, or even hourly.

Equipment that lasts

Ecowize business development general manager, David Clarke, said the products had a one-year warranty, but they often lasted longer.

“The benefit of having colour-coded products include minimising cross contamination, which can occur between departments in a food factory, raw and cooked, or between surfaces, food contact and floors,” he said. “Floors are difficult to keep clean as waste products from processing may fall onto the area, and traffic, people and trolleys move through this area.”

Ecowize’s range of colour-coded products include buckets, floor brushes, hand and specialty brushes, squeegees, scrapers, mixing paddles and more.

Colour improves cleaning processes

The strong colours help differentiate equipment easily. With nine colours to choose from, the range not only helps companies use different products for different rooms, it also allows workers to separate colours used for flooring, benchtops and other areas that need to remain clean without the risk of cross contamination.

Vikan is the manufacturer behind the colour-coded products Ecowize sells to businesses across Australia.

Vikan knows the primary purpose of colour coding is to help prevent cross contamination, which can occur as a result of physical factors, chemical, microbes and allergens, among many others.

“The colours help businesses avoid confusion in its cleaning processes,” said Clarke. “They are also made from EU and FDA-approved compliant materials.”

Buying the company’s colour-coded products is easy. All a customer has to do is add their colour preference number to the product code to confirm the product required.