The task of the food processing industry is to take crops or farm animal products and use them to produce all kinds of foodstuffs. Despite a stagnant economy, food and beverage companies keep generating revenue and intend to increase investment levels on new products and technology to fuel growth, according to a recent survey by KPMG. While investing in growth, companies remain focused on costs and efficiency, and indicate they are increasing emphasis on food safety and regulatory compliance.
Businesses in the food sector are proactively addressing changes in the regulatory environment, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and EU Regulations. They are also proactively addressing risk management related issues, an area where foodborne illnesses require a very high level of attention.
Foodborne illnesses – a growing threat
A foodborne disease is any illness resulting from the consumption of food which is contaminated by pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites as well as chemical agents. Foodborne diseases pose a growing threat to public health worldwide.
The most common effect of foodborne diseases takes the form of gastrointestinal symptoms but such diseases can also lead to chronic, life-threatening conditions including neurological or immunological disorders as well as multi-organ failure, cancer and death. Recent global developments are increasingly challenging international health security. These developments include the growing industrialization and trade of food production and the emergence of new or antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Although we do not currently have an exact figure of the global impact of foodborne diseases on society, businesses and trade, the latest estimations are of hundreds of billions of US dollars.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) estimates that there are roughly 48 million cases, 3,000 deaths, and 128,000 hospitalizations from foodborne pathogens each year in the US only. Children, the elderly, pregnant and post-partum women and individuals with compromised immune systems are at highest risk of developing complications from foodborne illness
- A new study by a former US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) economist estimates the total economic impact of foodborne illness across the nation to be a combined $152 billion annually
- Robert Scharff, a professor of consumer science at Ohio State University, elaborated a cost-of-illness model that includes "economic estimates for medical costs, productivity losses, food recalls and illness-related mortality"
- In industrialized countries, the percentage of the population suffering from foodborne diseases each year has been reported to be up to 30%
- 31 known pathogens are responsible for 9.4 million illnesses (20% of the total), 55,961 annual hospitalizations (44% of the total) and 1,351 deaths (44% of the total). The remaining unknown/unspecified pathogens are responsible for 38.4 million illnesses (80% of the total), 71,878 annual hospitalizations (56% of the total) and 1,686 deaths (56% of the total)
Risk: food recall
A food recall occurs when there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill. A food manufacturer or distributor initiates the recall to take foods off the market. In some situations, food recalls are requested by government agencies. A food recall can cost millions and can be potentially fatal for a business.
On top of these scary numbers, food safety is becoming increasingly important for the food processing sector for a number of other reasons:
- Foodborne illnesses continue to plague the global supply chain (see the latest bird flu outbreak in China)
- The European Union and the FDA in the US keep increasing enforcement of existing regulations, giving food safety and food manufacturing enforcement greater visibility
- There is a trend to focus on health claims made by food manufacturers (for example, ‘functional foods’ that help reduce cholesterol etc.)
- Product recall is threatening the food industry, with increasing vigilance and monitoring of the quality and safety of foods put on the market shelves; public perception and attitudes towards bacteria-related issues are heightened because of headline-making stories
Growing pressure on food manufacturers – solutions from Interroll
As a consequence one can expect further pressure on food manufacturers to improve quality control in the coming years. Risk management and risk reduction are the start to better food safety practices.
To help food manufacturers all over the world comply with all of the strict regulations in terms of hygiene in their material handling processes, Interroll has created the most hygienic conveyor drive currently available on the market.
Conventional gear motors are bulky, complex to install and, most importantly, non-hygienic: tested and verified as non-cleanable by the independent Danish Technological Institute, they require expensive cabinets and guarding.
The Interroll drum motor, instead, can be hygienically cleaned and disinfected regularly using high-pressure water, steam and chemicals. This helps food manufacturers achieve the highest possible hygiene standards.
Interroll’s own R&D department has designed the synchronous drum motor according to guidelines of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) using only first-class materials approved by FDA and EC regulation 1935/2004. Furthermore, with its standard IP66 and IP69k sealing systems the Interroll synchronous drum motor is the ideal solution for wet and high-pressure wash-down applications.
The Interroll drum motor features optimum cleanability which provides for the lowest possible levels of salmonella, listeria, E. coli and other harmful microorganisms in the production environment.
Tried and tested for optimum food safety and efficiency
The chemical resistance of the materials used for Interroll’s drum motor has been validated in real environmental tests. Cleaning specialist Ecolab, world leader in premium cleaning, sanitation and service solutions, has certified a five-year minimum lifetime of materials when exposed to typical cleaning and sanitation procedures using the Topax range of products.
"Hygiene is important, that’s why I like the Interroll product. Look, we’re only a box of bad meat away from being out of business," says Jeff Evers of Butterball. Butterball, which uses Interroll drum motors in food production, is one of the largest global turkey providers in the world, exporting over 100 million pounds of turkey products annually to over 50 countries.
Interroll performed a thorough study at their testing laboratory in Baal, Germany, on the efficiency of gear motors versus asynchronous drum motors and the new synchronous drum motor. The results were outstanding in terms of efficiency and energy consumption.
Choosing Interroll drum motors can help save up to 133 €/year per every single drum motor at a facility. And this only in direct energy cost. If one considers indirect costs like air conditioning, improved efficiency and shorter down time, it all adds up to significant savings.
"Without taking into consideration the time and money saved on installation and maintenance, the four-fold durability alone produces savings of 68.75%. Investing in a drum motor is more profitable than a conventional motor even though the initial cost is higher. The Interroll drum motors were, therefore, a natural choice. They play an important role in enabling us to provide complete solutions that are truly hygienic, reliable and cost-effective," said Miguel H. Alonso of Grupo hrg, one of Europe’s leading suppliers of seafood processing systems.