Upgrading Equipment

, Produce Safety Technician

Equipment in a packhouse

Considering an upgrade this spring to new-to-you equipment and materials? Here are some helpful hints:

First, if you're considering purchasing used equipment, make sure you consider its previous use and whether that prior use included the need for it to be taken apart to be easily cleaned. This is not only important to help you find bacteria hiding spots, but is also saving you labor, water and sanitizing agents.

Also, are the surfaces of your interior building materials smooth? Has there been any excessive wear and tear, especially on wood surfaces like plywood walls? You might want to think about replacing them on your current equipment or new equipment before installing.

It's also important to think about any lubricated points and/or bearings, and whether you can clean them and re-lube them with a food grade lubricant.

Lastly, before its first contact with your produce, it's important to thoroughly clean it with a detergent or alcohol-based cleaner for any wax buildup, and then sanitize it thoroughly with a food contact grade sanitizer. For more information on cleaning and sanitizing on produce farms, take a look at this factsheet from University of Vermont Extension.