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The OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification: Technically Speaking: Cleaning and Accessibility
Why cleanliness should be at the forefront of equipment design
Now more than ever before, proper cleanliness is at the forefront of every foodservice operation. This makes it especially important for commercial kitchen food preparation areas to meet cleanability design criteria. The one thing all food equipment has in common are nooks and crannies that can harbor harmful bacteria. Before equipment even reaches the kitchen, these surfaces should be free of pits, pinholes, cracks and crevices that are difficult to clean.
One of the major aspects of NSF International’s sanitation certification is the hygienic design of equipment. Essentially, how the equipment is constructed helps to reduce soil accumulation, prevent harborage of insects or other vermin and allow operators to easily remove soil build-up that may attract pests. The design requirements for certification cover all parts of the unit, including areas in contact with food.
Cleanability and Accessibility
In general, the food zones must be readily accessible and easily cleanable. This means that you must be able to access and clean every part by hand: you should not need tools such as screwdrivers to remove a part for cleaning, and you should be able to remove food or other soiling material with a cloth, sponge or brush. Equipment that has these hygienic requirements makes it easier for operators to remove soil that attracts unwanted pests and to maintain a high level of food safety to reduce chances of foodborne illness.
Easily cleanable: Manufactured so that food and other soiling material may be removed by manual cleaning methods.
Readily accessible: Manufactured to be exposed for cleaning and inspection without the use of tools.
Splash Zones & Nonfood Zones
Areas considered splash and exposed nonfood zones should be accessible and easily cleanable. Since these zones on equipment are not exposed to food, they can be accessed using simple tools such as a screwdriver. Special security tools would not be considered “simple tools.”
Accessible: Manufactured to be exposed for cleaning and inspection with the use of simple tools.
Simple Tools: Hand tools commonly available to food establishment maintenance and cleaning personnel, such as screwdrivers, pliers, open-ended wrenches and Allen wrenches.
For all zones, cleanability can be impacted by both design and the types of materials selected.
Common design elements that work well in a typical manufacturing environment do not translate well into foodservice. Wires and zip ties create tight, hard to clean around spaces; hex key fasteners accumulate debris; extruded hollow channels harbor vermin.
Porous materials such as open-cell foam gaskets retain liquid; materials with deep and heavily patterned textures hold onto soil and prevent removal.
Robotic or not – the basic principles of hygienic design remain the same. Ensuring a design that is capable of being cleaned is the first line of defense against foodborne illnesses. Certification is an important piece towards demonstrating commitment and compliance to food safety.
Next up in our article series? Learn about the nuts and bolts of food equipment, next week on OttOmate.
This article is part of the OttOmate Guide to NSF Certification. Visit ottomate.news each Wednesday for the latest article. For more information, contact NSF at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website to learn more.