When you’re running a food processing plant, it’s crucial that you use the right type of belts for the job. Not only do federal regulations require you to meet certain sanitation parameters, but having the right conveyor belt can dramatically increase your production efficiency. Here’s what you should know about choosing a conveyor belt for food processing.
Meeting FDA Regulations
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates many parts of the food production process, including sanitation. Since conveyor belts come in direct contact with the meat and plant matter that will become food, food processing plants must use food-safe fabrics and materials. Always ask your belt supplier about their food-grade belt standards.
Depending on how you’ll be using your belts, you may want to look for ones that can withstand very high or very low temperatures or both. Certain belt materials can catch fire, melt, or crack when exposed to temperatures outside their approved range. These kinds of belt malfunctions may cause production problems and even contamination issues.
Material and Coatings
In addition to what the FDA requires, choosing high-quality belts can make things like cleaning much easier. Many food-grade belts are made of anti-microbial materials or come with special coatings that help resist hard-to-clean substances like oil and fat.
Another thing to know about choosing a conveyor belt for food processing is that some belts work better for things like dip tanks and other processing stages. Ask your belt provider whether their food-grade belts are resistant to water and other liquids.
If you intend to use your belts with inclines, you’ll want to pay special attention to how these belts facilitate cleaning and sanitation. Incline belts often have extra surface area that makes it much easier for oils, fats, and food matter to become trapped. This can contribute to carryback and even allow bacteria to grow on your belts.
Once you’ve chosen them, always know how to clean and maintain food-grade conveyor belts to ensure safety and efficiency in your plant. Investing in high-quality belts in the present can save you from lost time and lost profits in the future.