LEDs and Food Processing: Top Considerations for Code Compliance and Reliable Lighting
Enclosed toilets. Easily cleanable floors. Even insect control devices that retain a vanquished bug inside the device. These are all Food and Drug Administration requirements for food processing facilities in the United States. In order to prep, cook, or manufacture food in any particular facility, both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — as well as a collection of other certifying bodies — require that you comply with strict codes that ensure the safety of both your employees and your customers.
The same is true for one commonly forgotten category: lighting. While food processing facilities rely heavily on specified lighting conditions that enable staff to manufacture granola bars, dice onions, or bake cakes, many don’t consider the strict codes — and in turn the options for code compliant equipment — that apply to the lighting right above their heads.
The best food products require the most appropriate lighting
In the FDA’s requirements for lighting in food processing facilities, the number one guidance measure is the amount of lighting necessary to perform certain tasks, like “reading labels; discerning the color of substances; identifying toxic materials; recognizing the condition of food, utensils, and supplies; and safely conducting general food establishment operations and clean-up.”
The USDA goes one step further, requiring 110 lux for 75 cm above the floor, 220 lux for areas that consumers touch such as buffets, and 540 lux for spaces in which staff members work with utensils such as knives.
The concept for both of these federal organizations is simple: the better staff can see their environment and the food products and tools they are handling, the safer the workstation and higher quality the product.
To ensure adequate lighting in each unique area of your food processing facility, consider auditing each space, determining the lux necessary, and changing bulbs and/or replacing fixtures with longer lasting LED lighting that is sure to deliver enough lumens to illuminate your space.
Choosing sturdier materials can help avoid breakage
According to Tammy Popejoy and Kerry Beach in an article in Quality Assurance and Food Safety,
“Bulb breakage is the main risk with lighting in food processing plants. Light bulbs over exposed product areas should be shielded, coated, or otherwise shatter-resistant. There are many different ways to protect product from glass bulb breakage, including coated lamps, protective lenses, and protective shrouds in metal-halide lighting.”
Though the FDA and USDA do not currently outline requirements for sturdier materials that do not break easily, Popejoy and Beach address a vital safety issue in any food processing environment: broken glass in consumable products. This can be easily avoided with specialized, LED light fixtures made of shatter-resistant materials.
What’s more, lighting in food processing facilities — much like the floors, surfaces, and equipment therein — should be made of heavy duty materials able to withstand their unique environment. These materials also often make them easily cleanable.
Easy-to-clean fixtures are ideal for heavy-duty cleaning
According to an article in LEDs magazine that outlines guidelines for NSF International — an Ann Arbor, MI based organization that provides food product testing and certification — “Lighting for food-processing areas, for example, often must tolerate airborne oils, mists, dust, grime, steam, water, effluents, and other contaminants while also enduring frequent wash-downs with high-pressure water jets and harsh cleaning solvents.”
When building a new food production facility or retrofitting an existing facility in order to maintain code compliance or obtain food safety certifications like NSF, choosing the right lighting for a food service environment is vital. We at EarthTronics, an industry leader in commercial LED lighting, offer LED UFO High Bay lights & LED Wash Down High Bays, both products are highly durable, safe, long-lasting, and a snap to clean.
Ideal for food processing, commercial kitchens, agricultural and manufacturing facilities, these LED High Bays are protected by a powder-coated cast aluminum alloy housing for durability in corrosive environments. The housing is designed to shed water impacting the fixture either through cleaning methods or while operating in processing environments.
So, how do I address my top concerns for compliance?
First and foremost: do your research. If you’re seeking food safety compliance with the FDA or USDA, consider safety as your utmost concern, accounting for adequate lighting in every environment.
If you seek to take your food processing facility to the next step and obtain NSF certification, consider choosing lighting products that adhere to that group’s stricter standards. Of course, one of the easiest ways to check most of these categories off your list is to choose EarthTronics’ LED UFO & Wash Down High Bay lights.
Expertly designed, constructed with safety in mind, easy to clean, and ideal in almost any food processing environment, these LED fixtures are an easy choice for new builds or retro-fitting. Also UL, RoHS and NSF listed, with a five-year warranty included, these fixtures are the number one choice for effective lighting and food safety compliance.