Foodborne illness is a significant problem in the US and in some respects is getting worse. In fact, a study by Fortune Magazine found that, on average, 48 million Americans fall victim to a food-related illness every year. In 2015, the estimated annual costs associated with these illnesses was $55.5 billion. This unsettling information is not only relevant to the general public but is also a vital issue that food vendors and manufacturers face as well.
Due to current food challenges and their threat to processing plants, it is extremely important to take all available precautions in order to minimize the risk of contamination. One way to do this is to make sure food processing equipment is designed to prevent contamination and minimize sanitation costs.
Speed reducers, motors, and other drivetrain components undergo regular sanitation treatments that involve high-pressure washdowns using corrosive cleaners. Cast iron or aluminum drivetrain components that are painted with protective anti-corrosive material may be adequate in many circumstances; however, in environments where more extreme washdowns are required, the use of these less durable materials can lead to major problems. The anti-corrosive coating can break free during washdowns, contaminating food and exposing the metal underneath. Furthermore, rust will begin to form on the exposed parts, also contaminating the food and creating rough surfaces for bacteria to grow on.
In these types of harsh environments, the safest and most cost-effective solution is to use stainless steel drivetrain parts. These parts have smooth surfaces, inherently anti-corrosive properties, and do not require special paint coatings. In other words, you won’t have to worry about paint chips, rust, or bacteria growth causing problems in your operation.
In the long run, stainless steel components provide cost savings and greater peace of mind. For example, cast iron speed reducers may require a smaller upfront investment, but they will need to be replaced more often or re-coated as the anti-corrosive paint is chipped away. The cost of line shutdowns and replacement parts can be substantially greater than the cost of investing in stainless steel components from the start.
Lastly, when it comes to maintaining a contamination-free facility, it is important to remember that your facility is only as safe as your weakest part. For that reason, it is recommended to use the appropriate grade stainless steel for all of your drivetrain components. You can then rest assured that not only will you be saving money, but also helping protect the public in the battle against bacteria.