10 Misconceptions Around Hygienic Design

When a food recall is issued, food processors hold their breath and hope they're not the next to join the growing number product recalls, and blacklisted brands. Hygienic design is an instrumental piece to protect the food you process, it's at the heart of everything CMP designs. Our goal is to keep food safe, so the people we love can safely consume the food you process. But what do you, the processor, really know about hygienic design? We listed the top ten misconceptions surrounding hygienic design to help you make informed decisions when seeking a new piece of equipment for your processing facility. 


1. It's expensive - Do you know what's expensive? Dumping 50,000 pounds of pork because of contamination, or hiring a PR firm to handle the newest recall of your product contaminated by listeria. The cost of a hygienically designed piece of equipment is far less expensive than a PR nightmare or a plant shut down and you can rest easy knowing your equipment has been designed to keep your food safe.

2. Poor sanitation is the reason for recalls, not equipment - The design of equipment plays a huge role in whether or not the sanitation process is effective to killing bacteria. If a piece of equipment is designed with harbourage points, no amount of chemicals can ensure the product will remain safe for consumption. Poor sanitation is only a part of the equation which causes contamination. Start with a hygienic design which eliminates harbourage points and allows for easy cleaning and then develop of thorough sanitation process to keep food safe.  

3. My product isn't at risk of contamination - Wrong, almost all products are at risk of contamination. Food borne illnesses were once thought to only come from meat and poultry industries. But with an increase in food processing and global trade, food from beef to blueberries, from crackers to chicken are susceptible to contamination. Want to learn more about at-risk products? See our blog here.

4. The onus is on the consumer to wash their vegetables and cook their meat properly - While food processors would prefer to put the onus on the customer, the truth is some products that find themselves contaminated are not products that can be washed or cooked. Think about recent recalls on Pepperidge Farms Goldfish or Kellogg's cereal, neither of which could have been washed by the consumer.  

5. We use chemical sanitizers so we don't need sanitary equipment - Sanitary practices and sanitary equipment work together to prevent food borne illnesses, but you can't have one without the other.  Overcompensating for poorly designed equipment with an abundance of chemical sanitizers doesn't ensure food safety. 

Close up image of scientist hands holding droplet

6. I don't need to wash my hygienically designed equipment - Hygienic design combines the power of design with the knowledge of how to properly care for and clean the equipment. The two must work in conjunction to ensure the safe processing of food. We recommend developing a best practices for contamination prevention, which included a thorough cleaning schedule. Everything from design to washing to maintenance, and employee hygiene all play a role in food safety.

7. I work in a dry processing facility so we're safe from bacteria - A popular misconception in the processing industry is that eliminating water in a facility will eliminate allergens, and bacteria. This is a misconception held particularly in the baking industry.  Bacteria can find its way into a facility through various means, and contamination can still occur without the presence of a water. If you're forgoing water, you should be especially mindful that your equipment is hygienically designed to ensure cleaning can be accomplished easily with tools specific to your environment, like vacuums and scrapers. 

8. My equipment always looks clean so we're safe from contamination - Bacteria like salmonella and listeria are invisible to the human eye and are very unlikely to be detected without the use of a microscope. Food processing equipment that has not been hygienically designed can still appear clean but can have bacteria hiding in harbourage points or in areas where water pools. A hygienically designed piece of equipment is easier to clean, eliminates harbourage points and areas where water can pool, making it easier for you to thoroughly clean your equipment so it doesn't just look clean, it truly is.

9. My products are organic, I don't need to worry about contamination - Bacteria finds its way into food in various ways ranging from irrigation systems where they are grown, to poor equipment cleaning and employee hygiene. Organic product is not any less susceptible to contamination, so special consideration should be given to the design of equipment which handles it ensuring it is easy to clean, and maintain.

10. Our facility is processing only one product so there is no risk of contamination  - A common misconception is that processing facilities processing multiple products are the ones to blame for cross contamination and foodborne illnesses. But outbreaks have occured in facilities where only one product is processed. Salmonella or listeria can enter the plant through a product, and without hygienically designed equipment and a thorough hygienic plan in place, any product can be the victim of contamination.

Want to learn more about Hygienic Design? Speak to one of our specialists today.