What the USDA’s new Billion-Dollar Plan Means for Food Processors

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is renewing its commitment to strengthen critical supply chains and address long-standing challenges within the food production and processing industries. 

“As the pandemic has evolved and Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused supply chain disruptions, it has become clear we cannot go back to the food system we had before,” said the USDA in a press release. 

The USDA aims to make the industry more competitive, equitable and resilient by investing billions of dollars in the food system. These investments are designed to build on a framework of similar legislation introduced in 2021 and could make the industry even more competitive.

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Industrial Refrigeration Basics: Synthetic vs. Natural Refrigerants

Operable refrigerant systems have been in use since the 1830s, with ether as the original refrigerant. Over the years, the use of refrigerants has evolved as technology has advanced and research has revealed more about the impacts these substances have on the environment. 

New restrictions continue to be placed on the use of refrigerants, making it more important than ever for manufacturers, as well as commercial and industrial owners, to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes.

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Think You Know BIM? Think Again: How Building Information Modeling Boosts Sustainability

A sustainable revolution is underway and industrial/commercial buildings in the U.S. are lagging behind. Almost a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come directly from industrial sources, such as manufacturing, food processing, mining and construction, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

“If direct and indirect emissions are combined, the industrial sector is the largest emitting sector in the U.S. economy, responsible for 29.6% of total emissions,” according to data provided by C2ES.

While you may be familiar with Building Information Modeling (BIM), it’s often underestimated and pigeonholed as merely a design and construction tool. However, when implemented strategically, BIM is the key to turning industrial facilities into long-term sustainability powerhouses and providing transparency and a sense of order to what has historically been a nebulous process.

A building’s design, construction and operation produce data that comprise a complex puzzle — BIM helps solve it.

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Your Checklist for Updating Your Facility’s Risk Management Program

Facilities, including food and beverage manufacturers, that use certain flammable and toxic substances in amounts that exceed threshold quantities must have a documented Risk Management Plan (RMP) per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. Companies must update and resubmit their RMP at least every five years.

The EPA requires each facility to review all sections of their RMP, update where appropriate, and certify that the entire RMP is accurate and complete.

According to the EPA’s checklist, here are the key elements that should be reviewed for resubmission:

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Factors to Consider Before Using a Spec Building for a Food and Beverage Facility

If you’re considering sites for a new facility, you may come across listings for speculative (“spec”) buildings. Developers often construct these basic, pre-engineered buildings in anticipation of a future tenant, and they can be attractive for owners looking for a new space.

Upfront, spec buildings offer to reduce costs by cutting out design and construction steps from a tenant’s to-do list — but there’s a catch. Food and beverage manufacturing has unique needs and it’s impossible to guarantee a spec building will meet them without retrofitting. Although leasing a spec building may be attractive to manufacturers who want to ramp up production quickly, there is the potential that they will incur additional costs the owner wasn’t anticipating.

It can be a valuable option in certain situations, but there are factors to consider before making a final decision.

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Does your PSM compliance training meet the latest OSHA requirements? [infographic]

Industrial refrigeration managers know that their personnel must undergo Process Safety Management (PSM) compliance training — but how do they know if their current training meets with the latest requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?

For example, did you know that simply sending your refrigeration team off for generic training at another facility is not enough? OSHA 1910.119 mandates being trained on your specific equipment and process.

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Retrofitting an Existing Space for Cold Storage? Keep These Factors in Mind.

Cold storage is already a multibillion-dollar market, but it’s expected to continue growing in the years ahead. This surge is fueled by a number of factors, including:

  • Increased demand for fresh food
  • Growth in supermarket sales (especially since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • A rise in online grocery shopping
  • The need for pharmaceutical drug and vaccine storage

As cold storage construction booms, some are converting existing buildings into refrigerated facilities. However, cold storage warehouses require unique specifications for the structure’s thermal envelope that are much more complex than a typical dry warehouse.

It’s crucial to understand these unique differences and the level of specialized detail involved, especially when it comes to a retrofit. Otherwise, you may face costly problems with your facility’s performance and thermal envelope in the future.

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17 Common Ammonia Safety Issues Your Refrigeration Personnel Can Control (and Correct)

It’s always a good time to check up on your facility’s safety — but now the stakes are even higher when it comes to safety violations.

Employers across the U.S. have been facing higher penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this year. In January 2021, the federal agency announced it was increasing the maximum penalty for serious and other than serious citations to $13,653 and the maximum for repeat and willful violations to $136,532. 

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Proper Air Balance is Critical to Employee Wellbeing and Food Safety

Proper air balance in a food plant is required to maintain the environmental parameters that keep the space food-safe, including temperature, humidity and the frequency of air replacement. Additionally, the direction of airflow is important, especially when dealing with raw animal products.

Now, in the post-pandemic world, clean, fresh air is more valuable than ever. As the world gets back to work, it’s important to examine your facility’s air system to ensure it’s up to par to keep workers and consumers safe.

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Food Safety: Biofilm Formation and Removal

Biofilm can form just about anywhere in a food processing plant — even the cleanest looking surfaces can be a threat to food safety if an invisible layer of bacteria is present. Why does biofilm form and how can it be prevented? Knowing how to detect and eliminate biofilm is crucial to ensuring your food plant’s processing equipment is contaminant-free.

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