Experts estimate the time spent cleaning in the food and beverage industry to be as much as 30 percent. Thus, it is also understandable why the manufacturers attach great importance to a cleaning-friendly design (hygienic design). Many producers therefore look out for a 3-A or an EHEDG symbol. But what do these symbols stand for and how can they be compared?
3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. (3-A SSI) is a US based, non-profit organisation dedicated to improving hygiene design in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. The standards set are intended to ensure product quality and thus protect the health of the end user. The principles and certificates are therefore recognised by many countries and food manufacturers. For the certification of hygienic parts, the evaluation is based on design features, so that, for example in a pipe, small angles or small radii should be avoided. This is to ensure the protection of consumer goods from contamination, a simple possibility for cleaning surfaces and easy disassembly for cleaning purposes.
The EHEDG (European Hygienic Equipment Design Group) has been supporting hygiene measures during the production and packaging of food since 1989 and is a foundation of food-related organisations. The main task of EHEDG is to contribute to hygienic engineering and design in all areas of food production and thus to ensure the safe production of food. The EHEDG certifies hygienic components only if they satisfy theoretical approaches on the one hand and practical tests on the other. The EHEDG certificate is mainly recognised in Europe.
As a global measurement technology manufacturer, numerous products for the food and pharmaceutical industry are certified to 3-A and EHEDG. But how can these certifications be compared?
While there are fundamental differences between the 3-A Standards and the EHEDG guidelines, the primary purpose of both organisations is to apply sound hygiene principles in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Both 3-A and EHEDG represent many organisations involved with the food industry with the goal of supporting cleanliness during the manufacturing process and packaging.
The main differences between the two associations are the requirements for the design of hygienic equipment. This is due to the differently defined hygiene levels of each organisation. There are also differences in the requirements for certification. While a 3-A certification requires only a theoretical review of design requirements, EHEDG certification reviews the design both theoretically and practically (using a standardised hygiene test).
The design specifications of the 3-A standards are very detailed and describe, for example, precisely the execution of radii and the required surface finish. If these specifications cannot be met, a 3-A certification of the product is not possible. The EHEDG, however, is more general in its formulations and describes the intended effect. If, for technical or functional reasons, the design, geometry and surface specifications cannot be met, the EHEDG (DOC 37 – Hygienic Design and Application of Sensors, Section 4.1.3) permits the cleanability to be compensated for in other ways. The effectiveness of the chosen design must be proven through a cleaning test. If this test is passed successfully, this measuring instrument will receive an EHEDG certificate, despite its design deviations.
It is obvious that 3-A SSI and EHEDG are pursuing the same goal, and that cooperation between the two organisations has a positive impact on improving and standardising standards and guidelines in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Both organisations are already exchanging their blueprints for new or revised standards for correction.
WIKA offers a wide range of 3-A- and EHEDG-certified products with its measuring instruments in hygienic design. Further information can be found on the WIKA website. Together with you, we will determine the instruments suitable for your application. Your contact person will be happy to help you.