Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the foremost product safety testing and certification organization in North America, announces the publication of the first edition of the American National Standard for Meat and Poultry Plant Equipment, Ansi/UL 2128.

Based on USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) sanitation guidelines, ANSI/UL 2128 was designated by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) on July 5, 2000, encompassing requirements that cover hygienic design, construction and test methods for equipment that handles, processes and packages meat or poultry products or ingredients thereof. ANSI/UL 2128 includes performance-based requirements that supplement or supercede requirements formerly applied in the USDA’s prior acceptance equipment program.

“After helping demonstrate compliance to established USDA-FSIS sanitation requirements through our Meat and Poultry Plant Equipment Certification Program, UL is proud to take the next step by publishing a standard that will be the single, definitive source for the hygiene of meat and poultry plant equipment,” said Tom Blewitt, manager of UL’s Environmental and Public Health Services Department. “Being based on USDA technical guidelines, ANSI/UL 2128 puts everyone on the same page with regard to nationally recognized requirements. It will be instrumental in enhancing food safety for equipment in processing plants.”

Plant equipment tested under ANSI/UL 2128 includes thermal processing (heating /refrigeration) equipment, conveyors, grinders, mixers, slicers, scales, packaging equipment, hand tools and assorted component parts of equipment such as belts, pumps and valves.

Blewitt said that demonstrating compliance is becoming increasingly important following USDA’s implementation of a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system designed to reduce the risk of food-borne illness due to meat and poultry contamination. Under the HACCP system, it is the responsibility of plant owners/operators to address sanitation issues as part of their HACCP plans. They must not only be able to document effective maintenance and cleaning procedures, but must also document the means by which acceptably designed and constructed equipment is being put to use in their facilities.

“ANSI/UL 2128 reflects the experience gained from 30 years of prior acceptance combined with the flexibility of HACCP regulations that encourage industry to develop and implement innovative measures for producing safe foods,” said Blewitt. “Food processors and regulators will benefit from nationally recognized requirements that can be uniformly applied and updated as technology and the marketplace evolve and change.”

“FSIS believes that third party certification of facilities and equipment can make a useful contribution to the effort of establishments in meeting new requirements,” said Thomas J. Billy, Administrator for USDA-FSIS. “Because third-party certification services may be advantageous to many establishments, FSIS supports industry initiatives in this regard, and we especially applaud efforts in this area.”

In developing the Standard, UL followed its ANSI-accredited organization standards development method, which provides for all points of view to be considered, and that the end product will be a consensus standard adopted by a balanced technical committee. ANSI/UL 2128 was developed by a Technical Committee composed of representatives from the producer, user and general interest communities.

The standard draws on the expertise of government (State Agricultural Departments, FSIS, Canadian Food Inspection Agency), regulators, academia, meat and poultry plant operators, equipment manufacturers and others from around the world having appropriate expertise.

UL began developing its Meat and Poultry Plant Equipment Certification Program when the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) discontinued one of its prior acceptance programs in September 1997. With USDA requirements for prior approval of facility design and equipment specifications removed, equipment manufacturers requested that UL evaluate products for use in meat and poultry plants in accordance with USDA guidelines.

For more information on the ANSI/UL 2128 standard and UL’s Meat and Poultry Plant Equipment Certification Program, refer to UL’s web site at www.ul.com/eph.

For more than 20 years, UL has been a contributing member of the environmental and public health community. A leader in the certification and standards development community, UL conducts a wide array of environmental/public health safety and performance testing for products as varied as plastic pipe, food service equipment, refrigerants, fuel storage tanks, drinking water additives and treatment units, oil/water separators and carbon monoxide detectors.