By BizLED Bureau
Mar 8, 2016: LED lighting technology is surely getting ahead with vast applications and finding favourable use in different sectors. Food and beverage industry is no exception as they follow the strictest norms and top compliance standards to ensure public health and safety of their workers.
This has led to great potential for LED manufacturers and people from food and beverage industry to extract the best of LED products due to energy efficiency, low maintenance and LED lifetime.
LED lighting in food and beverages industry has their own challenges as suitably designed LEDs function better than most legacy lighting technologies. With possibilities of glass or other breakable materials which might contaminate food products in traditional lighting, better light output and efficiency level at the low temperatures of cold storage score better for LED lighting. LED does not contain any hazardous material like mercury, longer life (50,000 hour or more), higher efficacies, dimmability controls, color combinations, and a broad range of operating temperatures.
The above factors make up for versatility of LED bulbs in one of the most demanding industries around. With high-quality illumination and long life and minimum maintenance, LEDs may help food and beverage industry to be transformed into clean, green work machinery.
LED products are robust and eco-friendly for the demanding regulatory requirements, making LEDs an ideal choice. As food and beverages industry require a different set of environment and compliance standards under a single facility, these lights are equipped to be adjusted with reference to the environment and conditions.
A plant usually has processing, staging, distribution, warehousing, cold or dry storage, clean rooms, offices, hallways, lobbies, restrooms location etc and each section have specific requirements for lighting. For example, lighting in the food-processing area contains airborne oil, mists, dust, grime, steam, water, effluents, and other contaminants. There are frequent wash-downs with harsh cleaning solvents and high-pressure water jets as these processes are essential for the environment.
National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has defined standards based on the extent of direct contact with food products and area conditions. Food and beverage lighting products standards by NSF are referred to as NSF/ANSI Standard 2 (or just NSF 2) dividing plant environments into three zonal categories: Splash zone, food zone, and non-food zone.
Each zone reflects environments ranging from areas such as wet-processing areas that require high-pressure wash-downs but no direct contact with food; and areas where the product makes contact with food: or food storage, where there is no direct contact with food products and no high-pressure wash-downs.
Only the NSF guidelines for Non-Food Zone and Splash Zone usually apply as lighting products do not come into direct contact with food. LED lighting manufacturers have to ensure product’s physical design, materials used, employed manufacturing process as per the relevant zone while seeking NSF-2 certification for their products.
The IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society North America) has created a standard illumination level for various food-processing tasks. We will take an example to explain this. Areas for color grading should be lit at 150 fc, while staging, packing, warehousing and restrooms need 30 fc as allotted by IESNA illumination for food inspection areas ranges from 30 to 1000 fc.
“Good quality lighting and sufficient intensity must be ensured for sanitary conditions to be maintained and the product is not adulterated must be provided in areas where food is processed, handled, stored, or examined” per a manual reference of food safety with lighting, the USDA mandates sufficient lighting levels in Section 416.2(c) of its Food Safety and Inspection Service Manual.
The FDA and USDA have made photometric specifications for vertical illumination distributions. The illumination of vertical surfaces should measure 25% to 50% of the horizontal illumination with no shadows that might hamper workplace safety in critical plant areas.
For accurate inspection of color grading, specifically meat products require good color rendition and grading in that specific area. The food-inspection areas require a CRI of 85 but the USDA preferred CRI for general food-processing areas is 70.