With allergen labelling laws coming into force in both the EU and the US within the next six months, processors making different products on the same production lines will be under further pressureto ensure the safety of their food. In recent years US and EU food producers have had to make massive and costly recalls of their products due to food and allergen contamination.
Dorner Mfg. series 7400 conveyor was made to meet the growing demand for equipment that can be cleaned faster and more easily, said Gary Wemmert,the US company's marketing director.
The concern over food safety and especially allergen contamination is driving the trend to more frequent cleanings at food plants, Wemmert told FoodProductionDaily.com.
Food processors normally run two shifts of production and one shift of cleaning, but more and more are increasing the frequency of cleaning, he said. In one case a US frozen meal processor iswashing down its line every four hours due to the number of ingredients going into its products.
Dorner's sanitary conveyor allows users to tip up the non-motorized part, without use of any tools, to create slack on belt. The added slack provides access to the conveyor for cleaning, includingunderneath the belt and the conveyor frame. Dorner engineered the method specifically for wash-down and sanitary access.
For longer 7400 series conveyors, the company developed belt lifters positioned in the center of the conveyor's frame. Belt lifters hold the belt off the frame, allowing for hands-free cleaning,which significantly cuts cleaning time, Wemmert said.
"This is the first conveyor on the market that uses this (tip-up) design," he said. "It cleans up twice as fast as competing conveyors."
Other conveyors usually need a special tool to get access to underneath the conveyor. The tool unscrews a jack to take the tension off the pulley. Others are designed with a lever mechanism tocollapse the frame. In some cases the belt must be taken off the machine entirely, costing companies time and resources.
The 7400 series feature a continuous welded stainless steel frame and stainless steel bearings filled with lubricant approved for use by the US food regulator. There are no belt fasteners in thefood zone and no horizontal surfaces or lap joints.
The 7400 conveyors can be made to order in widths from 6-60 in. (15cm-152cm) and of lengths up to 99ft (30m). The conveyors operate at speeds up to 200ft (61m) per minute.
"You tell us how long and how wide and we will ship it within 15 days," he said.
Dorner, a private company, is based in the US and has distributors in Denmark, Germany, the UK, Spain and France.
An estimated four per cent of adults and eight per cent of children in the EU suffer from food allergies, according to the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients'Associations.
In the US about two per cent of adults and about five percent of infants and young children suffer from food allergies, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Each year about 30,000individuals require emergency room treatment and 150 individuals die in the US because of allergic reactions to food.
Most of the allergy reactions come from eight major foods or food groups. Milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans account for 90 per cent of food allergies.
From November this year EU food makers must label their products if they contain allergen ingredients. The labeling would require labelling of the most common food allergen ingredients and theirderivatives such as cereals containing gluten, fish, crustaceans, egg, peanut, soy, milk and dairy products including lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seed, and sulphites.
In the US, a similar law will take effect 1 January 2006 but will be restricted to the eight major food or food group allergies.