A most important factor in the safe and wholesome production of food is the good hygienic design of all facilities in food producing and processing in the food chain. The use of unhygienically designed equipment, farms and factories can result in product quality issues and food poisoning incidents. Furthermore, results include product losses due to spoilage, increased cleaning costs, and reduced production time. These aspects are of considerable environmental interest. It is, therefore, essential that both users and manufacturers of food processing equipment are aware of hygienic design principles and European requirements. To minimise the risk of incidents with food products, a network is set up to disseminate knowledge needed for hygienic design and processing. The network involves experts from many EU countries, of all disciplines involved.
The principal aim of the project, is to provide practical guidance for the hygienic manufacturing of food in order to promote compliance with European food safety requirements. Producing guidelines, including test methods, and training and education materials in the field of hygienic design and processing will ensure this. Topics to deal with are hygienic manufacturing, design of food processing machinery (e.g. homogenisers, pumps, cooling/chilling equipment and components like couplings, valves, sensors), process lines, food factories, transport, storage, handling and environment. Guidelines will help industry to comply with relevant EC Directives. Efforts will be made to obtain consensus between EHEDG and organisations with similar objectives, like NSF International and 3A.
The project also focuses on dissemination of knowledge on hygienic manufacture in the food processing industry and engineering sectors (e.g. equipment design, building contractors). Training and education materials will be used to promote hygiene awareness and understanding among all staff/personnel involved in the food chain, 'from farm to fork'. Special attention will be given to those groups, which have not been trained in microbiology, such as equipment designers. Furthermore, standards organisations, e.g. CEN, will be provided with specialist views on hygienic aspects of equipment design.
The expected results of this project are a series of guidelines produced (in English), covering the hygiene aspects of design and operation of the food chain, including e.g. handling, processing, packaging, storage and transport. Guidelines will be translated into other European languages where applicable. Training and education materials on hygienic manufacture will be produced, based on the guidelines and test methods. Hygienic-manufacture requirements and mechanical-engineering requirements to assure safe food will be integrated in these materials. Knowledge will also be disseminated through publications on hygienic manufacture in international journals and magazines and on the EHEDG Internet web site (www.ehedg.org) as well as through contributions to appropriate symposia. All this will further promote the hygienic manufacturing of food.
The insights obtained in integral processing regarding food safety and hygiene and EHEDG guidelines on hygienic manufacture will benefit the food industry, equipment industry and building contractors, consumers, authorities and standardisation organisations:
- The food industry will gain a broader perspective of the production of safe products, helping to reduce the number of food safety incidents and product recalls. This will also result in a reduction of waste. A more hygienic production process will eliminate the need for excessive heating of raw materials and final products to eliminate undesirable micro-organisms, improving product quality.
- The equipment industry and building contractors will be supported in the design of equipment and buildings, including its maintenance and auxiliary services, such that these do not create hygiene problems and cleaning will be easier. In many cases, the cleaning frequency may be reduced, so that the production of waste (lost product and used cleaning materials) is reduced as well.
- Consumers will get safe and wholesome food products.
- Authorities will receive input for regulations, public health policies, and directives regarding hygiene and preventing contamination during food processing. Standardisation organisations will receive input for standards on hygienic equipment and manufacture.