How to Avoid Bacterial Growth in F&B Industries ?

Food grade seals and gaskets are used in industries to avoid the growth of bacteria and other contaminants in the workplace. These gaskets are also tougher than regular gaskets, as they need to withstand thorough cleaning and regular wash downs. However, there is no such thing as being too cautious when dealing with the food and beverage industry (F&B).

THE PROBLEM

Gaskets are located between two flanges. They are connected using a tri-clamp. The clamp can be manipulated to achieve the required result. Since humans are handling this equipment, chances of error are high. If the clamp is not tightened the appropriate amount, it will give way for food particles to settle in. This could cause bacterial growth. The clamp should be tightened in accordance with the path the flow of solids or liquids will take.

If a gasket intrudes into the flow path, it is not only a prime spot for bacterial growth but also could get easily damaged. The wear and tear of the part that is in the way of the flow will be much higher as compared to the other parts. Hence, this should be taken care of when installing the gasket.

THE SOLUTION

In order to avoid bacterial growth on your food grade gasket or seal, the four main aspects to be considered are:

    1. Installation
      This is the most important step. When the gasket is installed, you should make sure that the connection is tight. There should be no space where any food or liquid could get lodged.
    2. Maintenance
      The connection of the seals should be checked when conducting maintenance of the entire plant.
    3. Cleaning
      All parts, no matter where they are located, should be cleaned regularly. A list of all the components that could be easily ignored should be collated. The inside and outside walls of all components should be sanitized on a regular basis.
    4. Replacement
      When removing or installing new gaskets, care should be taken that the connection is tight and the gasket does not intrude into the flow path.

Almost all gaskets will intrude into the flow path to some extent. It is advisable to seek a good grade gasket manufacturer who supplies gaskets with low intrusion levels.

The responsibility of F&B organizations spans avoiding any possible causes for bacterial growth in gaskets interacting with consumer products. Sometimes, this may go over and beyond the FDA regulations. The time taken for the FDA to implement a system that helps organizations avoid any potential problems related to bacterial growth could be quite long. In the meantime, F&B organizations should be conscientious and ensure a hygienic environment at all times.

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