Instances of food contamination and associated product recalls can be a costly issue for any food processing business – both financially and also from a reputational perspective.  Hygienic food factory design is no longer important purely from a safety and legislative perspective, but also to ensure the protection of brand image and ongoing commercial viability – particularly in the digital age of social media and user generated content. 

Equipment design, installation and maintenance is an integral part of any overarching hygienic food factory strategy, impacting not only the safety but also the quality of the final product output, as well as ensuring a safe environment for those involved in or impacted by the production processes.  

In this article we outline the key considerations in the hygienic design, installation and use of factory equipment – and its role in the overall hygienic food processing site to ensure a safe and compliant environment.  

What is Hygienic Food Factory Design?

Excellence in food hygiene is focused on removing the risk of food contamination, in line with enforced food standards and best practice. This is across 4 key contamination types:

  • Chemical (e.g. cleaning products, lubricants, coolants, paints)
  • Microbial (e.g. salmonella, listeria)
  • Allergenic (e.g. gluten, peanuts, fish)
  • Physical (e.g. pests, particles such as metal, glass and dust)

Best practice food production sites take a “hygiene by design” approach to their food safety practices, including consideration of:

  • Risk Assessments
  • Zoning & Factory Layout
  • Barrier Creation
  • Process Flow
  • Training & Communication
  • Monitoring & Improvement

Strategies should cover how to remove harmful air, particulates, pollutants and bacteria from the environment, as well as ensuring the correct temperature and levels of cleanliness, among other considerations. Production excellence in food hygiene protects not only the end consumer but also those working within the environment.

Focus often centres on initial factory build and processes – but it is important that food contamination risk is removed at every level of the factory environment – including equipment selection and maintenance.

Why does Hygienic Practice in Food Factory Equipment Matter?

A question of compliance

A key driver for good hygiene practice is the legal implications of not adhering to the guidelines.  Without food safety certifications and regulatory approval a food processor risks not only reputation but even the ability to trade.  Depending on the geographic areas of sales/production, an operator must comply with the rules of any number of regulatory and advisory bodies.

British Standards (BSEN)

Based on the European CEN “C” standards for food machinery safety, there are numerous British Standards relating to food machinery. These standards have been published post-Brexit by the British Standards Institution under MCE/3 – Safeguarding of machinery. Injury statistics published on the HSE website show the importance of these standards, with over 30% of fatal injuries and 10% of major injuries in the food and drink industry attributed to machinery and plant causes. In particular, the dangers associated with conveyors are highlighted, being linked to over 30% of injury occurrences.

This is the current list of BSEN standards associated with food production:

Generic standards for all food machines

  • Hygiene requirements (for all food machines) – BSEN 1672-2:2005
  • Safety requirements (for all food machines) – In draft as a prEN 1672-1
  • Food depositors – In draft as prEN 15180

Bakery machinery

  • Dough mixers – BSEN 453:2000
  • Planetary mixers – BSEN 454:2000
  • Rotary rack ovens – BSEN 1673:2000
  • Dough & pastry brakes – BSEN 1674:2000
  • Moulders – BSEN 12041:2000
  • Intermediate provers – BSEN 12043:2000
  • Pie and tart machines – BSEN 13390:2002
  • Automatic dividers – BSEN 12042:2005
  • Bowl lifting and tilting machines – BSEN 13288:2005
  • Mixers with horizontal shafts – BSEN 13389:2005
  • Fixed deck oven loaders – BSEN 13591:2005
  • Bread slicers – BSEN 13954:2005

Meat machinery

  • Mincing machines – BSEN 12331:2003
  • Circular saw machines – BSEN 12267:2003
  • Band saw machines – BSEN 12268:2003
  • Filling machines – BSEN 12463:2004
  • Derinding, skinning and membrane removal machines – BSEN 12355:2003
  • Rotating bowl cutters – BSEN 12855:2003
  • Portable/hand guided machines with mechanically driven cutting tools – BSEN 12984:2005
  • Mixing machines – BSEN 13570:2005
  • Chop cutting machines – BSEN 13870:2005
  • Curing injection machines – BSEN 13534:2006
  • Cube cutting machinery – BSEN 13871:2005
  • Forming machines – In draft as prEN 15165
  • Automatic back splitting machines – BSEN 15166:2008
  • Clipping machines – BSEN 13885:2005
  • Smokehouses – BSEN 15861:2012


Edible oils and fats

  • Centrifuges for processing edible oils and fats – BSEN 12505:2000
  • Raw materials crushers & kneaders – In draft

Pasta machinery

  • Spreader, stripping and cutting machines – BSEN 13379:2001
  • Driers and coolers – BSEN 13289:2001
  • Pasta presses – BSEN 13378:2001
  • Grinding and processing flour & semolina – BSEN 14958:2006
  • Processing fresh and filled pasta – BSEN 15774:2010

Fish processing machinery

  • Fish heading and filleting machines – In draft as prEN 15467

Dairy machinery

  • Bulk milk coolers on farms – BSEN 13732:2002

Catering machinery

  • Slicing machines – BSEN 1974:1998
  • Vegetable cutting machines – BSEN 1678:1998
  • Catering attachments for machines having an auxiliary drive hub – BSEN 12851:2005
  • Food processors and blenders  – BSEN 12852:2001
  • Hand held blenders and whisks – BSEN 12853:2001
  • Beam mixers – BSEN 12854:2003
  • Vegetable peelers – BSEN 13208:2003
  • Salad dryers – BSEN 13621:2004
  • Cooking kettles with powered stirrers – BSEN 13886:2005
  • Baguette slicing machines – BSEN 14655:2005
  • Dishwashing machines with conveyor – BSEN 14957:2006

European CEN standards

The European Committee for Standardization is one of three European Standardisation Organizations (together with CENELEC and ETSI) to be officially recognized by the EU and by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as being responsible for developing and defining voluntary standards at European level.

The CEN has produced a number of EU “C” Standards that set out safety requirements for certain food machinery, with the widely-recognised “CE” mark showing that a machine is compliant and safe for use.

  •  CEN/TC 153/WG 1 – Bakery equipment
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 11 – Machinery and equipment for processing fish and seafood
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 12 – Safety
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 13 – Hygiene
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 14 – Machinery and equipment for slaughterhouses
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 2 – Meat processing machinery
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 3 – Slicers
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 4 – Catering equipment
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 5 – Centrifuges for processing edible oil and fats
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 6 – Artisan ice cream machinery
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 7 – Pasta processing plant
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 8 – Bulk milk coolers
  • CEN/TC 153/WG 9 – Food processing machinery – Machinery for processing cereals and animals feed

Any machinery manufactured prior to the introduction of the “C” standards needs to meet the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, which require equipment to be “suitable for its purpose, properly maintained, and safe to clean and use.” Regular inspections should take place to ensure the ongoing suitability of any ageing equipment. 

EHEDG in the European Union

EHEDG is formed from a team of hygienic design and engineering experts, who promote hygienic design within food processing environments.
The EHEDG mission is to “raise awareness of hygienic design and engineering, develop guidance and solutions, provide a platform to promote our expertise and facilitate networking across the world.”

Covering processes, factory environments and equipment, they offer membership for networking, training & education, certification and guidelines, having published over 50 documents globally, including their Hygienic Design Principles for Food Factories . Many of their guidelines have been incorporated into legal food hygiene/safety law within the EU.
Since Brexit there is now an EHEDG regional section for the UK and Ireland (EHEDG UK & IE), with an aligned focus on supporting the improvement of hygienic engineering and design standards within the region through training, guidelines and support for smaller businesses.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

The GFSI is a self-described “Coalition of Action”, bringing together key players within the food industry to set benchmarking and certification standards and provide a community of experts and operators to drive forward food safety standards globally. Internationally-recognised GFSI certification programmes are cultivated through their networks of government representatives, regulators, public-private partnerships and IGOs to enable a global “once certified, recognised everywhere” approach.

3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. in the US

The 3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation that aims to advance food safety through the promotion of hygienic equipment design.  There are three associations within their membership scheme: International Dairy Foods Association; Food Processing Suppliers Association; the International Association for Food Protection and representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. As well as setting standards, certifications and working groups, they also manage the 3-A Symbol Authorization programme and other voluntary certificates to drive forward best practice within the industry. 

In addition, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TC 199 issued the “Hygiene Requirements for the Design of Machinery.” This international standard dictates the required hygiene levels with machines, along with information on intended manufacturer use.  

Food Standards Agency (FSA)

The FSA is an independent body responsible for food safety and hygiene across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It works with the Government and Local Authorities to safeguard public health and protect consumer interests related to food through the delivery of food hygiene initiatives and removal of unsafe food from sale and ensure meat hygiene in slaughterhouses and meat establishments.  The FSA also has responsibility for food labelling policies in Wales and Northern Ireland. 


Consumer & Media Pressure

Focus on hygienic food factory design has increased not only due to higher standards in food safety but also in line with consumer demands for “free from” produce and end-user pressures such as Natasha’s Law. 

Food production facilities must consider the risk of not operating safely not only from a legal perspective, but also on their partnerships and brand alliances with distributors.  Product recalls can be incredibly costly – both financially and in terms of a household name no longer wishing to trade with a supplier they consider a risk.  We need only take a quick search on Google to see the damaging impact that issues with food safety can have on a brand.  Google Search Result for “worst food product recalls UK .  Although the food production suppliers may not be named in these search results, they will certainly have felt the ramifications in their partner relationships.

Incorporating Hygienic Food Factory Design Principles into Equipment Selection, Installation, Use and Maintenance




According to the HSE, when purchasing new equipment the operator must:

  • Select work equipment which is suitable for its intended use in respect of health and safety
  • Specify clearly the health, safety and hygienic design requirements for the supplier to meet (including noise levels)
  • Check that the equipment supplied meets your specification and the supplier has met their legal duties.”

Guidance from the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 should also be followed, with any equipment selection including a 360 review of how it meets core principles of food hygiene design – reducing risk of contamination and promoting worker safety.  In particular, high-risk production environments such as dairy, meat and seafood should be questioning hygienic use from the very start of the equipment decision-making process.

There are 3 key areas of consideration in equipment selection and design:

  • Material
  • Design
  • Ease of Cleaning & Maintenance

1. Material – Are the materials compatible for the equipment’s intended use and working environment?

  • All construction materials should be resistant to chemicals e.g. detergents and antimicrobial agents
  • All materials should be inertly hygienic. For example they should be non-toxic and non-absorbent – porous surfaces are not usually allowed.
  • Surfaces should be smooth
  • typically with a maximum roughness of Ra = 0.8 µm
  • Materials should be durable enough to perform and last in the conditions in which they are intended
  • The materials should be corrosion-resistant
  • Electrical components should be appropriately enclosed or diverted away from food production areas to avoid any contamination caused by elements such as lead or mercury
  • Areas that are frequently exposed to fluids should not be painted or covered in non-resistant alloys as the surface could become compromised through flaking, bubbling or distortion
  • Plastics and polymers should not come into contact with the food
  • For non-contact areas, the materials can be of a lower specification but must still meet specified standards
  • Any fixes or modifications to the equipment involving soldering or similar should ensure the same integrity as the material itself


Stainless steel is frequently chosen due to it easily meeting typical requirements for construction materials in food production environments. Other options include titanium, copper, aluminium, platinum, rubber, plastic and glass. The intended equipment use and budgets will dictate final choice.

2. Design – Does the equipment design ensure the equipment can operate safely and hygienically?

  • The design should be smooth and ensure any crevices, gaps and recesses are sealed off to prevent ingress of any food materials, chemicals or cleaning products. Seals should be robust enough to withstand aggressive washdowns and abrasive cleaning products. If complete sealing is not possible then the equipment should be easily dismantled for cleaning of this area.
  • Clean-In-Place (CIP) principles should be considered where possible
  • Sharp corners or angles should be rounded to prevent build-up of materials at the point of edges meeting
  • The design should prevent any build-up of condensation
  • Self-draining design should be used wherever possible, using sloped surfaces and pipes with no ridges
  • Avoid opportunity for dust collection in the design, using covers and shields at an angle
  • There should be no risk of parts falling off and contaminating the food products
  • The design should not allow any lubricants or chemicals to come into contact with the food
  • The equipment should allow for quick and easy disassembly/assembly for cleaning and inspection
  • Adherence to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 includes appropriate marking, labelling and operating instructions
  • Screw threads and bolts should be avoided wherever possible

3. Ease of Cleaning & Maintenance – Does it allow for effective cleaning and disinfecting to required standards, even with aggressive cleaning practices?

Good cleaning and maintenance is key to ensuring equipment stays hygienic and safe in the long term and reduces the risk of contamination and microbial growth.  Any equipment intended for use in food production should be designed to make cleaning and maintenance as easy as possible.  This not only improves food safety but also brings increased efficiency to the production process and encourages those responsible to adhere to correct cleaning processes.  Cleaning and maintenance is one of the main drains on time resources in food production – considering how to reduce its impact at the point of design can save increased efforts further down the line.

  • If the equipment and operating environment permits, then Clean-In-Place principles should be applied to the design
  • The design should ensure all food contact areas are easily accessible or dismantlable for cleaning and maintenance within the operational schedules
  • Wherever possible, self-drying or self-draining functionality should be built into the equipment to allow fluids, cleaning and disinfectant products to drain away from surfaces
  • Clear cleaning & maintenance instructions must be provided with equipment supply
  • Equipment surfaces must be smooth and free from gaps, sharp angles and dead zones


Installation of the equipment is key in enabling processes to flow in a way that promotes good hygiene – in particular cleaning and maintenance processes.

  • If possible, make equipment mobile, so that it can be moved for cleaning/maintenance if needed
  • If flush to the floor, ensure adequate sealing. If not, then ensure adequate space to access underneath
  • Plan and install equipment and process lines to give optimum conditions to prevent any cross-contamination
  • Hire in expertise for correct installation in accordance with fitting and operation instructions
  • Ensure space around each piece of equipment so that there is room for both manoeuvring and cleaning


Regardless of best practice in the hygienic design and installation of food factory equipment, it is the ongoing cleaning and maintenance schedules of the machinery that will reduce the ongoing risk of contamination and ensure optimum food safety and hygiene. Cleaning and maintenance schedules should be in line with industry standards as a minimum and should be aligned to the operating environment, equipment design and any specific risks associated with the produce itself e.g. allergens.

  • Utilise CIP principles when possible
  • Engage professional aftercare and support of your equipment if there is not the necessary resources in-house
  • Ensure regular and appropriate lubrication of any moving parts
  • Implement thorough and regular cleaning schedules, in line with operating instructions, that mitigate any cross-contamination and document the cleaning that has taken place
  • Ensure correct cleaning materials and products are used, in line with manufacturer’s instructions
  • Thoroughly clean and store cleaning materials and tools in appropriate conditions e.g. autoclaves, chemical sanitisation
  • Incorporate HACCP principles into the planning of cleaning and maintenance
  • Consider the balance of reactive, preventative, proactive and predictive maintenance – which offers the business optimum hygiene and safety practice and also best efficiency?
  • Ensure thorough maintenance schedules include inspections and documentation & analysis of actions taken e.g. replacements and logging of all faults and damage
  • Train, train and train again. Make sure employees are trained in consistent maintenance and cleaning practices and carry out regular checks and inspections to make sure this is happening.
  • Keep a visible log of all cleaning and maintenance activities


Hygienic food factory design brings with it a host of benefits.  Not only does it ensure overall food safety and compliance with regulatory standards, it can also drive cost efficiencies and improve quality and profitability within the business through reduced downtime and careful management of resources. 

Any step that can be taken to control microbial counts, toxins, chemicals or other contamination is a positive step in delivering food products that are safe, of good quality and respected by both consumers and industry peers.  This includes decision-making around factory equipment.

Choice, installation, maintenance and use of food factory equipment plays a large part in hygienic food factory design.  From material composition to the placement of the machinery to adherence to manufacturer’s instruction, each step plays its own role in reducing risk of contamination and increasing the safety and longevity of the equipment. 

Not only does a hygienic approach give the food processor confidence in regulatory compliance and certification, in today’s image-led world, ensuring positive brand perception related to food safety can also be a strong competitive advantage. 

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