The confectionery industry will move from aluminum surfaces on processing and packaging equipment to stainless steel in the next five years in order to raise sanitation standards, according to Bosch.
Currently, confectioners favor machines with cheaper aluminum surfaces, but Bosch product manager Eric Aasen thinks change is afoot.
"I believe stainless steel is better just from a hygiene and cleanablity perspective.
“When you've got stainless steel you don't get the contamination and it's easier to clean, whereas with aluminum you can get oxidation and stuff that isn't conducive to hygiene.”
"I think eventually confectioners might start moving in that direction. In my estimation it might be 5 years down the road before they start really looking hard at that. It all comes down to the Food Safety Modernization Act and how critical they feel it plays with their product."
Nerves of steel
So why is the industry reluctant to make the change earlier?
Aasen said: "I believe it's because they don’t have the listeria issues that the protein manufacturers have. They aren't doing wet wash down and they don't have constant water on their machines.”
Confectioners tend to dry wipe machines rather than hosing them down or wet wiping, which can leave water resides that help bacteria to grow.
“If they do use water, I think they have to start looking at stainless steel a little more closely. If you use water and you have water standing around, you can have listeria."
Aasen talked ConfectioneryNews through his company’s SVC (Simplicity, Versatility and Cleanability) development platform at Pack Expo last month, which is all about developing new machines with hygienic designs.
“With that we've utilized as much stainless steel as we can. So every place that contacts the film or is above the product is stainless steel."
"Just going to stainless steel, yes it moves the price up, but if you simplify the design you can keep it at a level playing field."
Under its SVC platform Bosch has also begun to introduce piezoelectric buttons on machines – which can’t be pressed down.
"If you compare it to a standard push button, there you go into a cavity and can get dirt and build up - here you are not going to get that."
Aasen claimed that he had never seen piezoelectric buttons used before in the industry.