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SORTEX F Optical Sorter For the Frozen Fruit and Vegetable Industry

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SORTEX F Optical Sorter For the Frozen Fruit and Vegetable Industry

SORTEX F Optical Sorter For the Frozen Fruit and Vegetable Industry
December 05
08:39 2016

Scrutiny of hygienic processing practices in the frozen fruit and vegetable sector hasintensified, following several high-profile food contamination outbreaks. Bühler, a global leader in optical sorting technology for the removal of foreign material (FM) contamination, has addressed this and claims to have developed the most hygienic optical sorter available today, to help reduce the risk of microbial contamination.

As part of its research to understand the root causes of contamination, Bühler experts undertook extensive analysis of food safety risks, based on recalls in Europe and the USA. In most cases, they found that the problem could be traced back to the accumulation of food in certain locations within the machinery, particularly hollows, crevices and other areas with poor accessibility for cleaning.

Bühler product manager, Stephen Jacobs, explains: “The past couple of years in particular have seen some very high profile cases of product contamination. For instance, earlier this year there was a major listeria outbreak in the United States[1] that was traced back to a frozen fruit and vegetable processing plant. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report said inspectors found chipped and cracked plastic on parts of the plant equipment, which also did not allow for proper cleaning and maintenance.

“Thorough and regular cleaning of food processing facilities and equipment is the cornerstone of good manufacturing practice and one of the key pre-requisites for maintaining hygiene standards. To ensure that the SORTEX F meets the highest possible hygiene specifications, Bühler’s food hygiene team has worked closely with institutions such as EHEDG and Campden BRI.  This included the testing of machine materials for long-term robustness and its design for trouble-free cleaning and maintenance.”

The SORTEX F features a pioneering retractable chute that can be repositioned to allow operators to physically step inside and access internal areas of the machine.  Sloped surfaces ensure that all product residue runs off, eliminating the risk of product build up.  The finish of all metal surfaces complies with the recommended requirement for safe food contact and all polymer materials are resistant to high pressure washer jets and compliant to FDA regulations.  Attention has been paid to the smallest details, such as the use of spacer brackets, to create access for cleaning between components, where bacteria could otherwise harbour undetected.  The resulting machine is an unrivalled convergence of innovations, to improve hygiene standards in the food industry.

For food processors, it has never been more important to have state-of-the-art hygienic equipment to help meet the most stringent food safety specifications. The SORTEX F optical sorter, with its innovative open access, for quick, easy and thorough cleaning, has been designed to prevent the build up of pathogenic bacteria that can induce food-borne diseases such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria and Norovirus.

Well designed hygienic equipment such as the SORTEX F also brings tangible benefits for food manufacturers and processors. Not only does it reduce the risk of contamination – and, thereby, minimise the possibility of costly product recall – it also increases productivity, as less water, chemicals, time and people are needed for cleaning. Unquestionably, product changeover is shorter due to faster cleaning and so too is inspection and maintenance, due to good accessibility and easy dismantling.

Adds Jacobs “Overall, hygienic design contributes to more consistent product quality with less out-of-spec products, lower risk of spoilage, a better shelf life and thus less waste. By helping to reduce the risk of contamination, whether FM or bacterial, we are making food safer and, ultimately, saving food.”

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/23/us/listeria-outbreak-frozen-fruits-and-vegetables-recall.html?_r=1

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