Lighting Requirements in Food Prep and Processing Areas

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists processingdistribution, and preparation as three of the four steps in the food production chain where contamination can occur. In each of these three phases, light fixtures in the facilities are subject to food processing lighting requirements. Food safety and compliance are scrutinized and heavily regulated in the food industry because of the need to keep the food free from contaminants. Surfaces, machinery, storage devices, and tools used in the food processing industry must adhere to some of the most stringent and most frequently inspected cleanliness standards of any industry.

Both NSF International and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code have established lighting standards in food processing facilities. The FDA Food Code mandates the lumens delivered by light fixtures to ensure proper illumination in areas where food is handled. Sufficient illumination levels are critical to allow for employee safety and the sanitation and protection of the food products. Poor illumination could lead to accidents and the failure to observe contamination on surfaces or the product being handled properly.

NSF ratings apply to the construction and performance of the light fixture. Food grade light fixtures that meet NSF standards must be corrosion resistant, free from toxic materials, resistant to hose downs, and tightly sealed to avoid the accumulation of contaminants that could put the food product at risk. The fixture must have no gaps or openings that permit bacteria, dust, or other particles from the plenum to leak into the prep area. These tight seals are also designed to prevent vapors or liquid in the room from entering the fixture, leading to a loss of structural integrity or performance. Only NSF certified lighting should be considered in commercial kitchens, food packaging operations, or any other area involved in the food processing chain.


Benefits of LEDs in food-grade light fixtures

Food prep lighting is also be used to deliver light that can improve the employee recognition of mold, discoloration, or other potential safety issues. A well-tuned CRI (color rendering index) from an LED luminaire in a food processing plant allows employees to see the true color of the food they are handling. LED fixtures also are preferred in facilities and rooms where cold temperatures are required for food safety. The instant-on characteristics of LED lights are a notable benefit over traditional light sources that may be slow to reach full brightness in cold temperatures. Traditional light sources also create heat, which forces the HVAC system in a food processing or cold storage room to work harder to maintain a safe temperature.

Food processing employee safety and productivity improved with new LED lighting.

Poor lighting can contribute to both employee accidents and employee productivity in food processing plants and facilities. Heavy equipment is frequently used to move stored food products around in prep facilities, and many food processing professionals use grinders, slicers and other potentially dangerous tools in their work. Properly planned and installed lighting can reduce dark areas, shadows, and glare, contributing to hazardous conditions. Additionally, there is significant scientific evidence that the correct application of lighting promotes a healthy work environment where employees’ attitudes and productivity are both enhanced.

A diverse family of certified light fixtures for food processing facilities.

KURTZON™’s diverse family of light fixtures for food processing facilities are designed according to the exacting specifications required by NSF and the FDA. The fixtures meet NSF2, ETL, Chicago Plenum, ISO, and Federal Standards for clean spaces. The fixture offering includes both recessed, surface, suspended, and corner mounted options with LED and fluorescent light sources. The luminaire styles include high-bay, troffer, linear, and wraps. Learn more about the range of food processing area light fixtures here.

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