Aug 1, 2016: As LED lighting makes its way to the food and beverage industry, there is a growing concern whether LED lighting meets the stringent requirements of the food and beverage industry. With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency setting strict cleanliness rules and regulation for the industry, LED lighting manufacturers are making all efforts to meet the standards set by FDA and the stringent manufacturing standards set by NSF International (NSF).
Special lighting requirements
The food and beverage industry is a specialized industrial sector that uses some lighting fixtures that need to perform under hygienic and even dangerous conditions, besides a number of similar kinds of lighting fixtures found in other common industrial areas. The compliance standards that apply and the type of lighting products required depend on the surroundings within a specific area of a food and beverage facility.
A food and beverage plant has different lighting requirements for warehousing, processing, cold or dry storage, etc. For instance, lighting for food-processing areas needs to stand airborne oils, mists, dust, grime, steam, water, effluents, along with other contaminants.
NSF has set standards on the basis of the condition of a location, and on the extent of direct contact with food produces. The NSF criterion that links to food and beverage lighting products, referred to as NSF/ANSI Standard 2 or simply NSF 2, divides plant surroundings into three zonal groups: non-food zones, splash zone and food zone. Each zone represents surroundings ranging from locations like food storage, where there is no direct contact with food produces or wet-processing locations that need high-pressure wash-downs or locations where the produces are in direct contact with food.
NSF has also certified to use fixtures with IP65 (IEC60598) or IP66 (IEC60529) ingress protection ratings. Luminaires with UL wet location or UL damp location ratings. Vapor-tight products for hazardous locations (Class I, Division 2, Groups A, B, C and D, for example), and cleanroom-rated fixtures (for instance, ISO-14644, Classes 3 to 9, Federal Std. 209E, Class 1)
LED lighting can meet all stringent standards of food industry
The IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society North America) has come up with some illumination levels for a variety of food-processing areas. For instance, IESNA illumination for food examination areas ranges from 30 to 1000 fc. In addition, locations for color grading should be lit at 150 fc, whilst warehousing, staging, packing, and restrooms require 30 fc.
Another vital aspect for precise food inspection is good color rendition. Additionally, FDA and USDA have recognized photometric conditions for vertical illumination distributions. The lighting of vertical surfaces ought to measure 25% to 50% of the horizontal lighting and be free of shadows that may hamper workplace security in significant food and beverage plant locations.
LED lighting suitable for food and beverage industry
When it comes to the food and beverage industry, rightfully designed LED lighting has many benefits over the conventional lighting technologies or fixtures like no glass or other breakable materials that might pollute food products.
LED lighting is beneficial due the its features like low maintenance, longer life, no toxic mercury, higher efficacy, extensive dimmability and control, instant-on performance, and capability to operate in broad range of temperatures.
Howevrr, keeping in mind the numerous clenliness, security, ecological, and photometric needs and challenges involved in the food and beverage sector, the LED lighting manufacturers need to pay attention to to a few important factors. For example, they should use lightweight materials that are non-toxic, inert, corrosion-resistant, and fire-retardant, such as polycarbonate plastic and certain metals.
The designs of the fixtures should be smooth with water-shedding external surfaces free of crevices, holes, or recesses that could harbor bacteria. Painted or coated surfaces should be avoided as they may flake. The lens materials should be tough so that they can endure multiple cleanings, and will not get yellow, and produce uneven illumination. LED lighting manufacturers should also use NSF-compliant seals for IP65 or IP66 lighting fixtures that remain watertight under high-pressure wash-downs of up to 1500 psi (Splash Zone) and stop internal condensation