The processing of dry milk and related products relies on equipment which is designed and installed to proven and accepted design criteria. There is simply no effective way to validate the preventive controls in place in any processing system in the absence of measurable and verifiable design criteria for equipment.
So, what kinds of 3-A Sanitary Standards exist for this special type of processing equipment and how do these standards contribute to an effective preventive controls program for processors?
From an inventory of 71 individual equipment standards, 3-A SSI maintains a select few that were developed specifically for the processing of dry products. These standards only address equipment designed for the processing of “dry milk, dry milk products and other dry comestibles.” 3-A SSI also maintains some 3-A Accepted Practices (see below) for processing systems that have application to dry products. Among the standards are the following:
- 3-A Sanitary Standards for Sifters for Dry Products, 26-05, cover the sanitary aspects of sifters used for processing dry products beginning at, as appropriate, the inlets for products, cleaning solutions and processing air and terminating at the outlets for product, processing air, cleaning solutions or rejected material.
- Standards for Equipment for Packaging Dry Products, 27-06, cover the sanitary aspects of equipment for performing the functions of holding, forming, dispensing, filling, weighing, deaerating, closing, and/or sealing containers, and all parts which are essential to these functions when they are performed as an integral part of the packaging operation.
Standards for bins, conveyors
- Standards for Portable Bins for Dry Products, 34-02, cover the sanitary aspects of portable bins for storage, transportation and handling of dry milk and dry milk products in bulk.
- Standards for Mechanical Conveyors for Dry Products, 41-03, cover the sanitary aspects of mechanical equipment used solely for conveying dry milk and dry milk products except bucket types and are not an integral part of the dryer, commencing with the point at which the product enters the conveyor and ending at the point the product is discharged from the conveyor.
- Standards for Air-Driven Sonic Horns for Dry Products, 49-01, cover the sanitary aspects of air-driven sonic horns that dislodge particulates, enhance atomization, augment fluidization or are used in other ways to enhance the drying and/or recovery of dry products.
- Standards for Level-Sensing Devices for Dry Products, 50-01, cover the sanitary aspects of devices, excluding load cells, which have product contact surfaces and are used on dry products, storage vessels or equipment for sensing product level.
We also have the following accepted practices:
- Accepted Practices for Spray Drying Systems for Milk and Milk Products, Number 607-04, includes all equipment necessary for spray drying milk and milk products, beginning with the discharge of the final pump which delivers the liquid product to the atomizers and terminates at the point the finished product leaves the system for conveying either to the packaging system or to bulk storage.
- Accepted Practices for Instantizing Systems for Dry Milk and Dry Milk Products, Number 608-01, includes all equipment necessary for instantizing dry milk and dry milk products, beginning with the equipment which receives the product to be instantized and terminating at the point the product is discharged to either the packaging system or storage.
- All of the individual equipment standards feature specific requirements for materials, design, fabrication, cleanability and, if necessary, installation of identified equipment and machinery. The practices also have requirements for processing air.
Complying with FSMA
There is an important gap to be filled when it comes to effectively documenting numerous equipment-related issues of hygienic design and fabrication in a preventive controls plan that will be required for food processors under the Food Safety Modernization Act. Equipment design, along with the appropriate cleaning method, represents just one set of many variables to consider in developing the SSOP (sanitation standard operating procedures). The design criteria for processing equipment - from installation, operation, maintenance, to cleaning and sanitation – are fundamental to an effective SSOP.
This is where the baseline design criteria encompassed by 3-A SSI standards and practices for processing equipment/systems play an indispensable role. Conformance to 3-A Sanitary Standards improves and facilitates cleaning and sanitation programs. It also facilitates validation. Without proper hygienic design and construction, validation of cleaning efficacy is difficult, if not impossible.