A well-designed machine or production line prevents contamination

By: Ans Jacobs


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Serious food contaminations often have their origin in the design or installation of the machines used. This can be prevented by including hygiene requirements in the design and layout of the production line. The most important requirement is that machines, pipes, cabling, equipment and the environment can be cleaned properly!

According to the Machinery Directive, legislation since 1995, machines must comply with several hygienic regulations. The guidelines drawn up by EHEDG were input for this Machinery Directive and two important standards in this area: NEN-EN 1672-2 Machines for food preparation – General basic rules – Part 2: Hygiene requirements and ISO 14159Machine safety – Hygiene requirements for the design of machinery. The standards are almost identical and of great importance to machine builders in the food industry.

The machine builder is free to devise methods to meet the requirements of the Machinery Directive, however, the above standards provide guidance to meet all technical requirements. The manufacturer also has several challenges because there must also be no discrepancies with other legislation, such as health and safety, ATEX and requirements concerning electrical equipment. And in addition to the two general standards mentioned, there are also countless standards for specific machines.

There is a new version of NEN-EN 1672-2:2020

NEN-EN 1672-2 describes general hygiene and cleaning requirements for machines, equipment and parts (eg pipes) that are used in the food and feed industry. The requirements apply to all types of machines and associated equipment where hygienic risks for the consumer of the product may arise. In addition to food, this also includes pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

This standard was revised in December 2020. The food requirements to meet this standard have been considerably increased for the machine manufacturers. In addition to the list of definitions being expanded (more than doubled) and the hygiene requirements sharply revised, there are two more significant changes:

  1. 1. The mandatory risk analysis must be drawn up in a different, new way. This means carrying out an extensive ‘hygienic risk assessment’, in which possible hazards are reduced by, for example, changes to the design and draw up a user manual if necessary. This approach is new and will require additional time and energy to implement.
  2. 2. New requirements for cleanability have been established. For example, it must be stated whether a certain substance is harmful to the machine.

This adapted version pays even more attention to food safety.

What can the food producer do

All responsibility lies with machine manufacturers, but you as a food producer can help assess whether the design or installation meets hygienic requirements when purchasing a machine or production line. After all, a safe production line ensures safe products!

At the moment, many companies only look at the CE marking on a device when purchasing. But in the context of food safety, this label alone has little value. Does this mean that you have to go through the entire NEN-EN 1672-2 standard yourself? Not everyone is an expert in the field of machines, and the requirements are endless. Here are, in short, some important points which can be taken into account.

The standard assumes 3 surface zones on a machine or production line with different requirements for each zone (eg different materials). These areas are:

  • Food-zone: machine surfaces come into contact with food, or something can drip off a surface and end up in the process.
  •  Splash-zone: food may splash on these surfaces, but it will no longer enter the product flow.
  • Niet-food-zone: all other areas..

In addition, the nature of the foodstuffs and the location in the production line are important starting points. Wet or dry products, wet or dry working environment: this can affect the demands on the machine.

Nevertheless, there are general requirements that are easy to assess when purchasing a machine, device or (part of) a production line.

  •  Food zone: machine surfaces must meet the Food Contact Materials requirements (EG 1935/2004). So easy to clean and impermeable, non-toxic, non-absorbent, corrosion-resistant and has no negative influence on products.
  • In the splash zone, it is also easy to clean and impermeable, non-toxic, non-absorbent and corrosion-resistant.
  • Either corrosion-resistant or treated prior applies in the non-food zone.
  • Smooth surfaces with no possibilities for product residue to stay behind.
  • Transitions of surfaces are round and streamlined.
  • Carry out welding as hygienically as possible.
  • Avoid permanent connections, dead spaces and corners.
  • Avoid screws, bolts, rivets, control panels, knobs and switches in the food area.
  • Only use lubricants outside the food zone.
  • The machine must be accessible for cleaning and inspection. Also applies to the bottom and the mountings. The machine must be at least 10 cm from the floor and smaller machines (table-top model) preferably at least 5 cm from the ’table’. Also, pay attention to ergonomic conditions.
  •  The machine base and feet must be accessible and cleanable. Holes, cavities under the legs must be filled.
  •  No wheels in the food zone and they must be cleanable.
  • No open, hollow profiles for cables and pipes. Flexible cables and pipes must be movable for cleaning.
  • There are no cable ties in the machine, cable ties must be detectable.
  • Vents in the non-food zone, and not directed towards the food zone.
  •  Specific cleaning and maintenance instructions must be included in a manual.
  • Pay attention to the mandatory parts that must be supplied (see machine guideline box)


With the stricter requirements in the new standard, machine builders are challenged to design more robust food safe according to the latest insights.
When purchasing a machine or line, it is becoming increasingly clear to food producers which requirements must be taken into account to make the right choice. This is another important step in food safety!

[1] Verordening (EU) 2019/787 van het Europees Parlement en de Raad van 17 april 2019 betreffende de definitie, omschrijving, presentatie en etikettering van gedistilleerde dranken, het gebruik van de namen van gedistilleerde dranken in de presentatie en etikettering van andere levensmiddelen en de bescherming van geografische aanduidingen van gedistilleerde dranken, het gebruik van ethylalcohol en distillaten uit landbouwproducten in alcoholhoudende dranken, en tot intrekking van Verordening (EG) nr. 110/2008 PB L 130 van 17.5.2019


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