Optimizing Seal Design in Food & Beverage Pumps ( Part I )

- Apr 12, 2018-

The food and beverage industry is highly regulated, and equipment used in these facilities must meet a variety of standards and regulations that ensure consumer safety. In the past, being familiar with either U.S. or European regulations for hygienic design was sufficient for pump manufacturers and their suppliers selling to food and beverage producers. Today’s global economy has changed that ability.

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For instance, the end user of an American-made pump could be located in Europe or vice versa. China has its own complex regulations for food-contact materials that differ from those in the West and that tend to change more frequently than those in other countries. An awareness of global regulations and requirements is necessary to offer compliant products in various markets.

To satisfy hygienic design standards, each component of a pump must be fully compliant with regulations regarding the material used and the way the part was manufactured. The manufacturer of each component must carefully document the entire production process, including all materials used and the exact conditions under which the part was produced. That documentation may be scrutinized during regulatory audits of any pump containing the component.

Seals that Meet Standards

Pump seals are particularly tricky to produce in a hygienic-design environment because O-rings usually fit into a groove. Those grooves can collect and trap food after cleaning, causing food-spoiling microorganisms and bacteria to grow.

As a result, special designs for seals and surrounding equipment are needed to ensure hygienic integrity and maximum clean ability.

Depending on the pump’s function within the manufacturing process and how it will be cleaned, the potential sealing solution may be an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) sealing material for an aseptic seal, a fluoroelastomer (FKM) material for increased temperature stability, a perfluoroelastomer (FFKM) with increased chemical resistance or a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based seal with a fully enclosed activation spring.

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