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Open food processes beware: here come the robots

Robot technology offers comparable cleaning test results. Uniformly executed EHEDG certification and test methods are crucial to creating an honest level playing field for hygienic design innovation.

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EHEDG Executive Committee member Knuth Lorenzen is convinced that distinct EHEDG test methodology development is even more relevant after EHEDG reclaimed its rights for allocating EHEDG certificates. Together with EHEDG experts and the EHEDG Working Group Testing & Certification, he developed a new approach that enables EHEDG authorized test institutes to assess the cleanability test for open food processing equipment in the same way.

Why was this new test method guideline developed?
Knuth Lorenzen: “The first EHEDG test method guideline focused on assessing the in-place cleanability of food processing equipment and dates back to 1997. Between this publication and the last one launched in 2012 EHEDG published three more test method guidelines that focused on closed food processing equipment as well. This new and long-awaited EHEDG test method guideline is the first one specifically developed for testing open food processing equipment. It was requested by many food producers who want to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff when selecting new components - just like they do with closed processing equipment. This new test method guideline is the result of an extensive process of investigating and discussing the differences between testing closed versus open food processing equipment. In open food processes, there are many more factors that can influence the test results than in closed processes where testing conditions are much easier to control.”

How did you come up with the idea to introduce robot technology?
“After their first meeting in 2015, the working group members started to investigate methods to compare cleaning effects for various types of open process components. For a long time we’ve been looking for reliable and repeatable methods to first stain, then dry and finally clean open process equipment. This had to be done in ways that would justify comparing the cleaning results with our self-built reference components. To make the cleaning results comparable, both the test components and the reference components had to be stained, dried and cleaned in the same ways, with equal angles and distances between the cleaning nozzle and the surfaces during the whole staining and cleaning process. This was quite a challenge because many components for open processing have irregular shapes, corners, and surfaces. Eventually, I realized that the only reliable way to do this would be to use a programmable robot that traces all surfaces, based on a virtual twin model of the component.”

That sounds complicated.
“Due to recent advancements in robot technology, this is nearly not as complicated as it sounds. Most hygienic design equipment is already designed in 3D-modelling software, so the equipment producers can deliver the models to the EHEDG authorized test institutes. The test institutes can then feed the 3D-model to the robots and calibrate their testing procedures accordingly. The robots are off-the-shelf-products and can easily be obtained by the test institutes themselves. Just like the food processing companies, the EHEDG authorized test institutes are eager to read this new EHEDG test method guideline - because once they know which test method criteria they have to comply with, they can immediately start offering EHEDG testing and certification services for open food processing equipment. In cooperation with the EHEDG Working Group Testing & Certification, the Fraunhofer Institute is momentarily beta testing the new methodology in a real-life test setting. Please check the EHEDG website and the EHEDG social media news feeds to stay tuned.”

EHEDG World Congress on Hygienic Engineering & Design 2018

Globally, retailers – and the food and drink manufacturers that supply them – increasingly recognise that hygienic engineering and design are critical to the production of safe food and drink. But much more needs to be done.

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Much more needs to be done to ensure the minimisation of serious food poisoning outbreaks, which regrettably still occur because of cross contamination resulting from poorly designed, cleaned and maintained food factory environments and from the production equipment within them. These were the key messages to emerge from the sixth European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) World Congress held in London from 21-22 November during the Food Matters Live event at the ExCeL exhibition centre.



The World Congress, which attracted 350 delegates from 51 countries around the world, heard about the very latest thinking on hygienic engineering and design from expert speakers from academia and industry, including food manufacturers Mondelēz and Cargill, and leading food retailer Marks & Spencer, whose senior food hygiene technologist Katie Satterthwaite spoke about the criticality of hygienic design to good cleaning practices in food and drink premises.



Twenty presentations over the two days were grouped into four sessions covering building and equipment design; cleaning; innovation; and upgrading and renovation. Speakers discussed everything from the use of mathematical modelling to optimise spray jet removal of waste deposits from the surfaces of process vessels, through to very practical advice on equipment design and maintenance to minimise the entrapment and retention of potentially dangerous pathogens.

They also described good layout of production facilities – including air handling and water management – together with the design of all-important drainage systems, to reduce the opportunities for cross contamination. The need to carry out risk assessments when changes are made to the fabric of food factory buildings, such as when new lines are added, was discussed by Richard Leathers of Campden BRI. The practical importance of this was then outlined by Cargill’s Haydn Mann, who described his experiences with a recent upgrade to one of Cargill’s poultry processing factories in the UK. 


Several presentations described the activities of EHEDG Working Groups, which have produced some 49 practical guidelines that are now being specified and used as prerequisites by companies, food safety organisations and governments around the world to ensure the quality and safety of foodstuffs on sale to consumers. However, EHEDG doesn’t stand still. It operates a process of continuous improvement in which guidelines are periodically reviewed, updated and added to by specialist working groups as more knowledge and expertise is gained. Some of these developments were also described over the two days of the Congress.

For example, work on updating EHEDG guidance on the validation of cleaning regimes was described by Dirk Nikoleiski of Commercial Food Sanitation, while forthcoming EHEDG guideline number 50 on cleaning-in-place (CIP) systems was described by Diversey’s Hein Timmerman.



On the first evening of the Congress, a gala dinner for delegates was held at which the Hygienic Study Awards were presented. First prize went to Sawsen Zouaghi, from the School of Industrial Biology at the University of Cergy-Pontoise in France, for her PhD thesis on biomimetic surfaces for dairy fouling management. 

Awards were also presented for the best technical posters displayed during the Congress, with the first prize awarded for the development of a flexible mobile cleaning device for open processing and packaging lines from the Fraunhofer IVV in Dresden, Germany.

The EHEDG Merit awards, which recognise outstanding contribution to the organisation and the food and drink sector generally, were presented to Ulf Thiessen of GEA Tuchenhagen in Germany and Hein Timmerman from Diversey in Belgium.

As delegates relaxed during the gala dinner, they were serenaded by the glorious classical singing of female vocalist duo Belle Voci, 2018 finalists in the hit British TV music talent show The Voice UK. 






Connecting people and their expertise

For all of us at the EHEDG Secretariat, this is certainly one of the most exciting years in the history of EHEDG. We have welcomed more new member organizations from all over the world than ever before and we have offered substantial secretarial support to professionalize our communication services and certification processes. All these new developments imply quite some administrative work for the employees of the EHEDG Secretariat, so we have been extremely busy and we learned to be flexible, to adapt to new rules and plans quickly. What we wish for in the coming year? Consistency in strategy development and enough time to catch up with the implementation of all ongoing changes and developments.

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A clear sign that EHEDG is growing is the extension and diversification of the EHEDG product portfolio. For every new product or service, the secretariat makes sure that all necessary back office processes and workflows are put in place. Then there is the new cooperation with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) - a great opportunity for EHEDG experts to demonstrate their knowledge on a global scale and an enrichment of the EHEDG network maintained by the secretariat. This is also the year of our biannual EHEDG World Congress. We’ve been working hard so that all members feel welcome and well cared for.



EHEDG Connects: people, policies, products

As the Head Office Manager of the EHEDG Secretariat I have the pleasure to point your attention to the first issue of EHEDG Connects, a new magazine created by the EHEDG Sub-Committee Communication with support of the EHEDG Secretariat. EHEDG Connects informs about last years most important EHEDG activities and achievements and marks the start of a new communication strategy, aimed at a broader audience that includes food industry decision makers, food safety managers, engineers, equipment developers, scientists and legislators. Compared to earlier yearbooks, you will find less technical information and more stories that provide insights in the goals and strategies that drive the development of EHEDG.

As the name implies, EHEDG Connects is all about connecting and motivating people to share their knowledge. To do this, we need to trust each other, and that is why transparency is important. In the key messages that you find in this publication, EHEDG Executive Committee and Sub-Committee members talk frankly about policies, strategies and ongoing developments. You will find interviews with EHEDG Working Group members who explain why and how they developed new guidelines and with food safety professionals who share how they utilize EHEDG products and services in their working fields.

This makes EHEDG Connects an excellent publication to inform yourself about the EHEDG community and its people, while enjoying a good read and encountering familiar as well as some new faces. I wish you a great reading experience and I hope to meet you soon. Until then, rest assured that our secretariat is always standby to answer your questions - and if we don’t have the answers ourselves, we always know someone who has. That’s the power of EHEDG and the EHEDG Secretariat: we love to connect people and their knowledge.

With kind regards,
Susanne Flenner

EHEDG World Congress 2018 Video Impression

For many of the 325 professionals that came together in London, the EHEDG World Congress was so much more than just another business trip - it was nothing less than a reunion with likeminded professionals from all over the world. The EHEDG Connects camera crew asked some visitors why they attended and which learnings they took back home to their companies.

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Scroll down to watch the video.



EHEDG Plenary Meeting 2018

80 EHEDG delegates from 33 countries gathered in London for the EHEDG Plenary Meeting 2018

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On the pre-congress day of 20 November 2018, 80 EHEDG chairpersons from 33 countries together with the EHEDG Executive Committee and the Advisory Board members gathered for their annual Plenary Meeting. The participants discussed the future alignment of the EHEDG strategy and operational work with a focus on further geographical expansion, the alignment of the technical portfolio including major projects like new test method & training development as well as extended communication activities. The Sub-Committees on Product Portfolio, Regional Development and Communication introduced their strategic planning in these fields.

The next EHEDG Plenary Meeting is scheduled to take place in October 2019 in Dubrovnik/Croatia.

By-law signing with EHEDG New Zealand

Ludvig Josefsberg (EHEDG President), David Lowry (representative of new EHEDG Regional Section New Zealand), Andrés Pascual (Chair of SubCom Regional Development), Piet Steenaard (EHEDG Treasurer)

The participants of the Plenary Meeting voted for EHEDG Netherlands to receive the "Best EHEDG Regional Section Award 2018" due to their activities in 2018.

Michael Evers (EHEDG Netherlands) and Andrés Pascual (Chair of SubCom Regional Development)

EHEDG & Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

EHEDG members help to define hygienic design benchmarking requirements for GFSI food safety certification programs

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In November 2017, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) sent out a call for participation in the GFSI Working Group for Hygienic Design of Food Facilities and Equipment. The objective was to define hygienic design benchmarking requirements for the GFSI recognized food safety certification programs covering food processing equipment and food processing/handling facilities. This working group has now been established, and it incorporates a significant body of EHEDG expertise. This is what the selected team members of the GFSI Working Group Hygienic Design of Food Facilities and Equipment are working on:


  • Define benchmarking requirements for design, installation, engineering and (preventative) maintenance to benchmark Certificate Programme Owners (CPO’s).
  • Develop criteria that are suitable to be included in the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements.
  • Include references to relevant recognized industry standards regarding hygienic design.
  • Provide a basis that, in conjunction with the other elements of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements, could be used for equipment manufacturing certification.
  • Develop a proposal on how to handle connections with existing benchmarking requirements.
  • Recommend relevant definitions to be included in the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements glossary.

Growing awareness

Alongside the call for participation, GFSI issued a statement illustrating the growing awareness that hygienic engineering and design is vital to optimize food safety: “Correct design of food handling and processing equipment and food manufacturing facilities are more important than ever before. As we move forward with the implementation of food safety programmes, we also need to give more scrutiny to the hygienic design of facilities and equipment for the entire food supply chain. In most regulatory and industry food safety programmes, this is momentarily addressed in a general manner. However, the terms used are only broadly defined, and interpretation of acceptability is left to the individual auditor and their particular aptitude for equipment evaluation. GFSI, powered by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), is uniquely positioned to bring the key stakeholders together to address this issue collectively.”

EHEDG experts at work

The experts who dedicate their time and expertise to GFSI working groups do so on a voluntary basis. To ensure the entire industry spectrum is taken into account in an unbiased way, the GFSI Working Group for Hygienic Design of Food Facilities and Equipment is composed of a wide variety of representatives including retail, manufacturing and food service representatives, as well as international organisations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry.

For a complete list of all contributors, see EHEDG Connects Magazine 2018.

Awards 2018

During the EHEDG World Congress various awards in the field of Hygienic Engineering & Design were granted. In 2018, the following winners were honoured for their achievements and commitment:

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EHEDG Merit Awards 2018 

EHEDG honoured Mr. Ulf Thiessen (GEA Germany) and Mr. Hein Timmerman (Diversey Belgium) in recognition of their outstanding and long-term commitment and their distinguished services to the organization.



Hygienic Study Award 
The Hygienic Study Award is a joint initiative of EHEDG, VDMA and Fraunhofer IVV. This award honours the next generation of young researchers and scientists by promoting science and research in the field of hygienic processing. The winners of the 2018 Hygienic Study Awards are:


First winner: Ms. Sawsen Zouaghi (Professeur en Procédés et Ingrédients Bio-sourcés / Ecole de Biologie Industrielle, Cergy, France) for her thesis on BIOMIMETIC SURFACES FOR DAIRY FOULING MANAGEMENT

Second winner: Ms. Noor Zafira Noor Hasnan, PhD (Department of Process and Food Engineering / Faculty of Engineering, University Putra, Malaysia) for her thesis on INTEGRATED FOOD FACTORY SYSTEM DESIGN FOR MALAYSIAN SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs) IN THE PROCESSING OF CONVENIENCE FOOD PRODUCTS

Third winner: Mr. Ole Mathis Magens (Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology / University of Cambridge, UK) for his thesis on MITIGATING FOULING OF HEAT EXCHANGERS WITH FLUOROPOLYMER COATINGS

You can find more information on the Hygienic Study Awards here

EHEDG Best Regional Section Award
After each regional section presented its achievements of 2018, the attendees of the EHEDG Plenary Meeting distinguished EHEDG Netherlands as this years best regional section.   

EHEDG Poster Awards
The congress featured a poster exhibition with the following winners:

1st Price: Fraunhofer IVV Dresden 

2nd Price: Fraunhofer IVV Dresden 

3rd Price: Seepex GmbH

Welcome EHEDG New Zealand!

On occasion of the EHEDG Plenary Meeting 2018 held in London, the Bylaws with EHEDG New Zealand were proudly signed.

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EHEDG welcomed David Lowry (Managing Director Lowry Food Consulting Ltd.) at its Plenary Meeting in London, where the Regional Bylaws with New Zealand were signed with the EHEDG Foundation Board. David Lowry will soon start up by establishing a Regional Committee and is full of enthusiasm to spread the word about EHEDG at the other end of the world. If you are interested in the future activities of EHEDG New Zealand, please contact

Ludvig Josefsberg (EHEDG President), David Lowry (representative of new EHEDG Regional Section New Zealand), Andrés Pascual (Chair of SubCom Regional Development), Piet Steenaard (EHEDG Treasurer)

EHEDG centralizes certification processes

Securing validity of certificates and preserving level playing fields


After the reorganization of the EHEDG management structure, one of the first decisions of the newly compiled EHEDG Executive Committee was to centralize the allotment of EHEDG certifications. Dr. Peter Golz, chairman of the EHEDG Product Portfolio Sub-Commission, explains why retrieving the mandate for issuing EHEDG certificates was necessary to secure the validity of EHEDG certificates in the years to come.

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For many years, certificates were issued by test institutes. Why change that?

Dr. Peter Golz: “The independent test institutes are doing a great job and will continue to take care of all the product testing in the future. EHEDG centralized the final stage of the allotment of EHEDG certificates to make sure that all tests are harmonized and that all current EHEDG certification criteria are applied. Another reason for the centralization is that EHEDG needs to have control over the prolongment of the certificates. Prior to the centralization, there was no system in place for the recertification and re-evaluation of formerly certified products. Equipment that was certified in a time when old certification schemes were operative remained valid after new guidelines and certification schemes came into effect. This created an uneven playing field for new applicants. By centralizing its mandate for issuing certificates, EHEDG can continue driving innovation and can guarantee that every single piece of EHEDG certified equipment listed on its website complies with the applicable EHEDG certification criteria.”

How does this centralized certification and recertification process work?

“To assess whether a specific application meets all the necessary current EHEDG certification class criteria, one needs reliable test results and the right expertise to interpret those results. The test institutes still gather their test results based on clear testing instructions, but the evaluation of these results is done collectively by the members of the EHEDG Certification Working Group. This group consists of Authorized Evaluation Officers who control each other and must follow strict procedures that are defined by the EHEDG Executive Committee and guarded by an independent EHEDG Certification Officer. This Certification Officer is also responsible for granting or denying EHEDG certificates and reports to the EHEDG Executive Committee. A comprehensive system of checks and balances secures that all working group members can act objectively and independently and that all approvals and rejections of certification applications are well substantiated. Furthermore, anything that can have an impact on the certification and recertification process is discussed by the members of the working group. They also prepare, monitor, update and develop test methods and assessment schemes.”

What does this mean for holders and applicants of EHEDG certificates?

“According to the new certification scheme, certificate holders have to sign up their components for a recertification process once every five years. Once a year they are requested to declare that the design of their certified component has not changed since the certification date. Certificate holders who want to renew their certificates need to initiate the recertification process in time to receive a new certificate issued under the current EHEDG certification scheme. As the re-evaluation needs to be done by one of the EHEDG Authorized Evaluation Officers, the applicant should contact one of them to initiate the process. A list of these officers is published on the EHEDG website. For equipment that was tested and certified before the introduction of the current certification scheme in 2015, EHEDG implemented a transition policy. By 2020 only certificates which have been issued or reissued under the current certification scheme will be listed on the EHEDG website.”

Is everything going according to plan up to now?

“We are making great progress, but initially we experienced some unexpected drawbacks because we underestimated the time and efforts it takes to obtain all the certification data from the various test institutes. Some contact data was outdated, and some test institutes that issued old certificates no longer exist. As a result, some holders of old certificates weren’t noticed about the need to recertificate their certificates as timely as intended. Our apologies for that. In hindsight, it would have been better to have finished the centralization first and to implement the recertification policy later. For now, we are completing our certification database and developed an online registration tool that certification holders can use to update their information and help us to reach the appropriate people within in their organizations before we have to take down their equipment from the EHEDG website.”

Does equipment that is withdrawn from the EHEDG website bear a higher hygiene risk compared to the listed components?

“Not necessarily. It simply means that the withdrawn equipment was due for recertification and hasn't been recertified in time. Nothing may have changed from a technical point of view, and the equipment might still meet all requirements of the current EHEDG certification scheme, but EHEDG cannot guarantee it. There is no other way for EHEDG to ensure that every single piece of equipment listed on its website complies with the current EHEDG certification criteria than to clean this list up. It’s in the common interest of food producers an all stakeholders contributing to the advancement of hygienic design. There are clear procedures on what needs to be done to get withdrawn equipment back on the list. If in doubt, please contact us. We are happy to help out."

Guidelines Pasteurization & Sterilization

Chairman EHEDG Working Group Heat Treatment  Bengt Eliasson: "These two completely renewed guidelines on pasteurization and sterilization of liquid food offer new insights in how to optimize food safety, food quality, productivity and energy efficiency of continuous pasteurization and ultra-high temperature sterilization processes.” 

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We’ve been pasteurizing and sterilizing for ages. Why renew these guidelines now?

Bengt Eliasson: “Pasteurization and sterilization are well established, most widespread and important methods to preserve liquid food. This is why the initial guidelines for continuous pasteurization and sterilization were the very first guidelines that EHEDG published to optimize food safety in the food industry. That was back in 1992. Since then, new technologies and new legal requirements and regulations have emerged. EHEDG translates all those new developments into practical guidelines that the food industry and its suppliers can work with to comply with all requirements. EHEDG also wants to help its community members to find the information they need more efficiently. Therefore, all EHEDG working groups recently agreed to structure their guidelines in a new format. So now the guidelines for the pasteurization and sterilization of liquid food are published in this new, more user-friendly format.”

So what’s new?

“These new guidelines contain hands-on information aimed at food producers, machine equipment developers and plant designers who need to comply with the latest food hygiene regulations. The old versions of these guidelines focused primarily on milk production, thus limiting the possible applications of these guidelines. The renewed guidelines also cover the production of other liquid foods and high acid products like fruit juices. They provide practical technical frameworks that include a wide array of topics ranging from general considerations regarding the applied pasteurization and sterilization techniques to hygienic process design and technical matters concerning effective flow diversion, recirculation and cleaning and control processes. All information is presented in line with the new EHEDG guidelines format that structures information into categories like design, production and maintenance aspects. For those who want to go one step further, these guidelines also contain useful information on techniques to optimize energy efficiency and minimize maintenance intervals.

Do these renewed guidelines cover everything we must know?

“There’s always more to know, but these publications are very comprehensive. They contain guidelines that help readers to make sure that correct temperatures and processing conditions are maintained, that any unacceptable deviation in key process variables results in an automatic flow diversion or shutdown and that the production process is stopped before fouling becomes significant or before thermophilic bacteria growth becomes too intensive. The guidelines relate to the importance of hygienic design in the different stages of the pasteurization and sterilization processes. The guideline on pasteurization, for example, states that the process equipment downstream of the holding tube must be hygienically designed and hence cleanable, possible to disinfect and bacteria tight. This guideline furthermore offers means to prevent the risk of mixing pasteurized and unpasteurized products. Moreover, both of these guidelines even include practical guidelines on how to utilize hygienic design principles to tackle specific regional legislation requirements.”

You mentioned energy efficiency. How sustainable is hygienic design?

“Energy efficient solutions in general, and heat recovery techniques in particular, are becoming more and more important for food producers. They are willing to invest in new techniques to optimize efficiency - not only to save energy, water, and chemicals but also to maximize their productivity by minimizing cleaning time intervals and waste. Hygienic design offers many possibilities to save energy and minimize downtime. These guidelines contain several chapters that help EHEDG community members to make sustainable choices to minimize contamination risks and to save energy and money. The guidelines illustrate that investing in hygienic design solutions is economically viable. By applying hygienic design we can shorten CIP times, make the production more efficient by overall increasing availability and reduce the total cost of production. Since investing in hygienic design improves overall efficiency, it’s is a cost saving investment it. It also avoids recalls and public health hazards.”

Is there a link between hygienic design and new forms of energy re-use?

“The guidelines also illustrate how certain systems work, for example, a system that enables producers to preheat their products by heat recovery using a secondary circuit. Heat recovery systems are in general more complex regarding plant design, but the results are very satisfying because they require significantly less energy. Even when investment budgets are limited, these guidelines offer interesting options. In sterilization processes, for example, it’s also possible to preheat a product after the holding section with a sterilized product in a regenerative heat exchanger, making for less complex plant designs and realizing the same amount of energy savings.”

So it’s not the germs we need worry about then - it’s our inner terrain.

“Exactly. And let me conclude with yet another quote of the great Louis Pasteur, who not only discovered the power of pasteurization, but who also had a very clear vision on how to handle food safety in general: ‘Whether our efforts are, or not, favored by life, let us be able to say, when we come near to the great goal, I have done what I could.’"

Contemporary Communications

EHEDG Sub-Committe Communications invites all EHEDG members to make EHEDG well-known around the world and in all areas of food processing. Simply follow the steps as described below to contribute with your online communication power.

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Improving online presence of EHEDG

On the plenary meeting of the EHEDG World Congress, the EHEDG Sub-Committee Communications illustrated how each member has the power to make EHEDG well known around the world and on all levels of food processing companies. 







6 easy steps  to a higher social media exposure for EHEDG 

Step 1: Go to your LinkedIn account and type in the upper left search window: EHEDG

Step 2: Or go directly to:

Step 3: The EHEDG LinkeIn Company Page will show up. Click on the button 'Follow'.

Step 4: From now on you will receive all of the EHEDG social media updates in your timeline.

Step 5: If you like a post, show others that you like it by clicking on the 'like' button.

Step 6: Even better: share the post or post a comment. This will multiply the reach of the post.


For more insights on the new communication strategy of EHEDG, please read the interview with the chairman of the EHEDG Sub-Committee Communication Karl-Heinz Bahr in EHEDG Connects Magazine. 


On behalf of the EHEDG Sub-Com Communication and global food safety: THANK YOU!



New Guideline Fish Processing

Associate Professor and Chair of EHEDG Working Group Fish Processing Sanja Vidaček Filipec explains how the new EHEDG Fish Processing Guideline helps to tackle food safety challenges in fish processing.

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Every food processing line benefits from hygienic engineering and design, but fish processing is particularly receptive for microbiological contamination. That’s why every fish handling process should comply with the latest EHEDG guidelines. It is also why EHEDG published a new guideline dedicated exclusively to fish processing.


Food Technologist Sanja Vidaček Filipec is Associate Professor at the University of Zagreb and the Chair of the EHEDG Working Group Fish Processing. She talks about the unique hygienic design challenges in fish processing and explains how the new EHEDG Fish Processing Guideline 49 can help to tackle fish processing challenges and minimize contamination risks.


What sets industrial fish processing apart from other food handling processes?

Sanja Vidaček Filipec: “Firstly, fish come in all sorts, shapes, and sizes and varieties differ greatly around the world. Consequently, there are many technical approaches to processing fish. This represented a challenge for our working group members who committed themselves to develop a comprehensive and international industry guideline. Secondly, fish processing environments are always humid, and humidity is the single most compromising factor for food safety because it manifolds the risk of microbiological contamination. Thirdly, since fish is highly perishable, speed and efficiency are particularly important in fish processing, even more so than in processing red meat or even poultry. That’s why fish trailers freeze their fish right after each catch. It is also why modern industry fish processing lines that make good use of EHEDG guidelines not only optimize their food safety and food quality conditions but also their efficiency and productivity.”

Why did it take until now to develop this guideline?

“In the past years EHEDG published technical guidelines on specific areas of open processing that also apply to fish processing - we refer to quite a lot of them in this new guideline. It took quite some time before all those separate guidelines were detailed enough to support a comprehensive guideline on fish processing. In the meantime, our working group focused on developing a set of fundamental hygienic design principles that would apply to different types of fish processing plants, in line with the basic hygienic design principles in EHEDG Guideline 8. This EHEDG Fish Processing Guideline 49 offers just that and more because it also addresses hygienic aspects that are specific to contemporary fish processing techniques, like the use of vacuum systems to remove by-products. EHEDG Fish Processing Guideline 49 took several years to develop because there are so many food safety and food quality determining aspects to industrial fish processing that had to be investigated. On a detailed level, every fish processing plant has to apply this guideline in accordance with their circumstances.”

Who should read this guideline?

“Everyone involved in the processing of salmon, white marine fish, and freshwater fish can put this guideline to excellent use. EHEDG Fish Processing Guideline 49 is even applicable for fish processing on fishing vessels. Overall, this new guideline offers great value during the procurement process, the plant design, installation, and microbiological sampling phase. It provides a comprehensive overview of all the everyday hazards and challenges of fish processing and does so in clear, non-technical descriptions. All members of our working group wanted to make sure that everyone could understand the principles. We expect this guideline to contribute to a more widespread awareness of food safety and food quality determining aspects of fish processing on all levels in the industry. Now every decision-maker in the fish industry can refer to this guideline and specify what is meant when requesting hygienic design solutions. Moreover, equipment producers striving to certificate new equipment for the fish processing industry know what criteria their components have to comply with. The EHEDG Working Group Fish Processing is convinced that this guideline will help to optimize food safety and food quality in fish processes all over the world.”