KANSAS CITY — Take a sticky dough, add a bunch of inclusions — many of which are allergens — and you’ve got a recipe for some hefty sanitation issues.

Bars can contain sugary ingredients.

“Over time, if you leave sugars on the equipment, when you add water for cleaning, it will become acidic and smell, not to mention the bacteria growth,” said Damian Morabito, president and chief executive officer of Topos Mondial Corp. “You really need to be sensitive to the materials you’re using, the type of belt and the stainless finishes, and that they lend themselves for fast and easy cleaning.”

Sanitary design of transfer equipment is top of mind for Haas-Meinke, a division of Bühler. With removable roll-on-roll-off (RORO) design, the company’s wirecutter is equipped with a removable head that includes the hopper, feed rollers, pump house and die plate.

“This allows our customers to quickly and efficiently remove the head and disassemble its components for cleaning,” said Andrew Knox, sales engineer, Franz Haas Machinery of America, Inc.

As food safety remains a critical concern in the American supply chain, Bühler launched an initiative to focus on safe food practices, including food safety education and sanitary design for equipment through collaboration with customers and other industry partners.

“Well-designed hygienic equipment contributes to the protection from foodborne hazards for the final customer,” said Sebastian Clemens, sales account manager, Bühler. “Not only does it reduce the risk of contamination, but it also maintains product quality, increases productivity and contributes to sustainability.”

When dealing with a tacky dough full of inclusions, bakers must stay on top of those little pieces. If one gets away, it could stick to wherever it lands … and stay there.

“The key for manufacturers is to be hypersensitive about sanitary design with the idea that nuts can go everywhere,” Mr. Morabito cautioned. “The last thing you want is to strand a peanut or some other nut on the system and have it end up in a nut-free product.”

And he said those kinds of inclusions could wind up anywhere, and when they are meant to bind to one another, they could easily stick in a hiding place or adhere itself to a moving part.

“When they stick to things, they go around the belt and back again and hide underneath,” he said. “Or if they hit the roller, and then the scraper blade, they can transfer over to something else. Soon, you’re just chasing sticky marbles all over the place.”

The key to this game of sanitary hide-and-seek is accessibility.

“It’s important for suppliers to think about how to break down the machine fast — without tools — to clean it and give free access to all parts of the machine that can collect food materials, ” Mr. Morabito said.

For Reiser, accessibility and sanitary design is all about simplicity, which is at the heart of Food Machinery Engineering’s design (FME), which partners with Reiser for dough handling equipment.

“If sanitation is complicated and difficult, then it will not get looked at or people will do their work incorrectly,” said Norman Schmidt, president, FME.

FME discovered that the cost to clean a conveyor’s structure was far greater than simply making one that wouldn’t accumulate the mess in the first place.

“Basic designs must be expanded upon, so we built machines that open for cleaning access,” he said. “We redesigned our conveyors where all structural members were totally welded for sanitary seal and the conveyor itself was open for full sanitation access.”

With any sanitation program, the key is minimizing the downtime. This concern is even bigger when it comes to equipment that’s transferring such a sticky, hard-to-handle product, especially when allergens are involved.

Mr. Knox said Haas’ roll-on-roll-off design allows for quick changeovers when bakers need to ­completely swap the head with a clean spare.

“Downtime is significantly reduced by exchanging the entire head and not having to clean the parts at the production line,” he said. “Allergen clean is easier to achieve in this way because the complete head can be removed from the line and disassembled without keeping the production line down.”

For efficiency, Handtmann developed a cleaning operational mode for its extruders that includes a CIP system to remove product stuck in the equipment before the complete teardown.

“This dramatically ­reduces the required cleaning time because removing the old dough left on the equipment can be the more time-consuming part of cleaning and sanitation,” 
said Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann, Inc..

Bakeries equipped with drains in the production area can take advantage of Handtmann’s fully washdown design. The extruders are also offered in a mobile version that can be transported to a dedicated cleaning and sanitation area.

Bar consumption and the latest R.&D. developments are essentially asking bar producers to become all things to everyone. And that requires them to make a product that sticks together … and keep it from sticking to everything else. It’s creating a clean product that tends to make a mess in the transport. As bakers up the ante in bar innovation, suppliers of dough handling equipment will follow suit.