Nickel Magazine, Jun. 02 -- The walls of food processing rooms must be smooth, durable, impervious, non-absorbent and easy to clean and disinfected. There are many ways to achieve these standardsÑtiling, coating or cladding, for instance. However, the joints between tiles not only harbour soils; they also offer a very convenient "ladder" to vermin determined to find sustenance. Stainless steel, on the other hand, can be made so smooth (and can be joined so smoothly) that, in addition to being easy to clean, it provides yet another hurdle to unwanted guests.
Pepsico USA made reference to a line of stainless steel facing material at the Food in Europe: Building In Safety congress in Valencia, Spain, in October 2001. This event was hosted by the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group.
Food-processing plants often have to be wet-cleaned by wiping or spraying, followed by hosing. The use of hose-pipes should be minimized, however, as they can rapidly spread contamination as a mist of airborne infection or "aerosol." Inevitably, the nooks and crannies of processing machinery remain wet for many hours after cleaning. Under these conditions, paints may not be able to protect non-stainless steels for long without frequent and expensive maintenance.
In cases where the integrity of joints and seals is deficient, there is a greater risk that product will escape. Often, this is a consequence of corroded valve seats or damaged demountable joints. Fortunately, the hardness and corrosion-resistance of stainless steel can help maintain the effectiveness of sealing mechanisms.
Even in the case of dry product, stainless steel can offer advantages over other construction materials. Stainless steel's smoothness prevents the adherence of soils and biofilms (and with them, micro-organisms), but this same attribute reduces friction between dry food products and the walls of the pipes inside which they are travelling. As a result, increases in localized temperatures, which can initiate microbial growth in the equipment, is minimized.