January 2006 ushered in tougher EU food safety regulations, putting primary responsibility on each stage of the food chain—from the feed supplier, the farmer, and the food processor to the retailers.
Intralox Account Manager Barry Wentink has been working with a plant manager at a meat processor in the Netherlands. Over the last twenty years, the plant has witnessed changing hygiene laws and stricter requirements.
“In terms of innovation and quality, this company has the capacity to quickly introduce new products in markets aimed at meeting ever-changing customer demands,” says Wentink. “However, their plant manager is realizing that achieving added value as a meat processor is where the future of his company lies.”
Retail chains are usually the last stop before the consumer and are the first to be affected by any food scare. Wentink points out that it is very important for companies to reassure customers that they are doing everything possible to ensure safe products.
“For the customer, it’s important that the meat he buys meets the increasing standards on shelf life,” says Wentink. “If efforts aren’t made to improve product quality and therefore hygienic standards, customers won’t place any orders.”
As a result, the plant manager places very high value on the cleanability of his belts. “This is an essential part of our operational management and concerns the whole holding,” he says. “The aim is to do better than what is required, creating a distinct identity for ourselves.”
Intralox’s EZ Clean family of belts and components is designed to meet increasing hygiene and sanitation requirements in food industries, particularly for meat processors. When used in conjunction with the Intralox EZ Clean In Place system and Angled EZ Clean Sprockets, cleaning time and water usage were reduced by as much as 65%, compared to manual cleaning.
According to Wentink, the meat plant manager agreed to try the Intralox EZ Clean belt solution in combination with the CIP system because the plant is always proactively looking at what it can do to prevent “bad things” from happening in the future. And, the results that the Intralox solution promised would allow the plant to fulfill corporate objectives such as plant optimization, cost reduction, quality improvement, and innovation.
Intralox worked closely with the plant to set up a 25-square-meter test conveyor in the primal (pig) deboning area, with one CIP system inside the conveyor and one outside. The plant manager was personally involved in monitoring and evaluating the test over a three-month period.
Using the CIP was particularly important in this case because the plant uses an external team of cleaning specialists that know the precise hygiene requirements in the meat processing business. This enables the plant to focus on what it does best – meat processing. Using the EZ Clean In Place system resulted in improved, reliable, guaranteed, and consistent cleaning with lower bacterial counts and reduced cleaning time.
Wentink reports that the plant manager is very satisfied with the 65% savings in cleaning time and water results on the test conveyor. Monetary savings from the reduction in cleaning time and water can be invested in other areas of the plant. He also values the after-sales service that Intralox provides its customers.
“If there are problems with the belt, someone must be available as quickly as possible so that the plant doesn’t need to shut down,” the plant manager explains. “Technical expertise is important during downtime.”
Intralox has a dedicated team of hygiene and sanitation experts on call. These specialists help individual plants assess their current sanitation procedures and develop the most effective belt cleaning practices for their applications. Group seminars on sanitation issues and best cleaning practices are also available upon request.