Machinery, Materials and electro-instrumental panels to be used in plants for food production

1. Introduction In the food industry world, there are many problems related to the hygienic safety of production stations along the...

1. Introduction

In the food industry world, there are many problems related to the hygienic safety of production stations along the entire supply chain for the production and packaging of food products.

For these reasons, the utmost attention is paid to the choice and use of materials and equipment that will be used for the production cycle, from construction to the management and feeding of all equipment and/or machinery operated not directly by the operator.

The "MOCA" certification (Materials and Objects intended to come into Contact with Food) is dedicated to all producers of materials and objects that come into contact with food.

A complex and diversified supply chain that encompasses numerous economic operators in the manufacturing sector, such as manufacturers of machinery for processing, preparation, storage and administration of food and beverages, food packaging, etc.

Compliance audits conducted by a third-party body allow companies to demonstrate to the market the correct compliance with legislative requirements, the adoption of good manufacturing practices, the compliance with the safety requirements of their products to protect human health.

2. Types of machinery

There are two types of machinery, intended to work in the food sector, with different obligations and implications:

  1. machinery intended to enter into direct or indirect contact with food during processing and / or packaging;
  2. machinery that does not come into contact with food products but only with the packaging (for example packaging machines or parts of packaging that will subsequently be used for food packaging).

For these machines two are the legislative references:

  • Directive 2006/42/EC of 17 May 2006 (Machinery Directive); in particular point 2 of Annex I "Essential health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of machines”;
  • Legislative Decree n. 17 of January 27, 2010, which is the national implementation of the Machinery Directive.

The general specifications on hygiene requirements for machines are provided by the EN ISO 14159 standard, while the specifications for the hygiene requirements for machines for the food industry are provided by the EN 1672-2 Standard.

Summarizing, the Machinery Directive - in its Annex I - focuses on the obligation to ensure a correct design so that the foodstuff that the machines will treat does not suffer:

  • microbiological contamination;
  •  cross-contamination of substances (with particular attention to allergens);
  • "physical" contamination by foreign bodies (biological type, such as insects or organic material, or fragments of materials unrelated to the product, such as wood, plastic, glass, metal, ...);
  •  chemical contamination deriving from detergent residues and lubricants.

It is also necessary to choose the construction materials that will come into contact with food so that they comply with the relevant laws.

3. Types of materials

Foods come into contact with many materials and objects during their respective stages of production, processing, storage, preparation and administration, prior to their final consumption. These materials and objects are called “Materials and objects intended to come into contact with food” (MOCA), such as containers for food transport, food processing machinery, packaging materials, kitchen utensils and cutlery and crockery. Such materials should be sufficiently inert to prevent their components negatively affecting consumer health or the quality of food.

In order to guarantee the safety of MOCAs and to facilitate the free movement of goods, there are a number of legal requirements and forms of control in the European Union (EU).

The principles established in Regulation (EC) 1935/2004 require that materials do not release their components into food in quantities that endanger human health and do not lead to an unacceptable change in the composition, taste and smell of food.

The technical sheet of a material shows the designation, the chemical composition, the technical standard and the mechanical characteristics of resistance to stress.

The decay of the original sheet status is a very critical element. In order to avoid this process, the sheet must be cleaned in such a way as to better support the adhesion of the first coating layer and protect the surface from corrosion, a phenomenon due to atmospheric agents (rain, sand, wind...), accidental mechanical impacts (scratches, shocks, etc. ...) or chemical stress. For OUTDOOR applications it is necessary to consider environmental factors (ice, snow, solar irradiation, wind) and choose a container with an adequate degree of protection, and, if necessary, install a protective roof. The use of polyester powder-based paints is recommended for outdoor product applications in order to increase the resistance to UV rays. In some applications it is necessary to consider environmental pollution/corrosion agents, where the painting cycle may not provide a suitable corrosion resistance.

For these uses, stainless steel certainly offers a more ideal solution, better than other types of materials.

An alternative solution, with the same or greater characteristics, is the treatment of nanotechnologies (specifically nanoceramics) and immersion painting with electrophoresis process.

4. Typologies of electro-instrumental panelboards

Depending on the use, whether they are installed in "Industrial" areas or "a major fire" or "with explosion hazard", there are constructive forms that fully meet all the mandatory requirements for the various types of installation.

There are panels made of metal casing in carbon steel sheet, with appropriate surface treatment, just as there are panels with metal casing in plastic or stainless steel or aluminum, depending on the location and hygiene requirements imposed by the place of installation.

The constructive forms are attributable to the requirements described in the reference standard and will be chosen based on the complexity of the functions underlying them.

This choice obviously goes to the designer who, after having carried out the appropriate risk analysis, determines the appropriate constructive form suitable for the purpose intended.

Cortem Group has designed a new series of “Ex d Ex tb” electro-instrumental panels for the specific use in environments with the presence of flammable powders, suitable for zones 21 and 22, which comply with 60079-31 Standard.

The types provided are many and respond to most of the installation needs in places with the presence of food substances.

5. Conclusions

With this very short exposition we only wanted to highlight the problems present in the food industry, highlighting the types of materials and the legislative provisions on food safety, without wanting to deepen all the specific aspects of the relevant regulations. As always, we point out that the task of the designer is the analysis and the dimensional calculation of everything that contributes to the design and construction of the equipment, materials and electrical instrument panels necessary for a correct project.