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Hygienic engineering design

Debra Smith describes the aims and activities of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) and explains its links with IFST.

Founded in 1989, the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) is a consortium of equipment and chemical manufacturers, food and drink manufacturers and retailers, research institutes, and public health authorities, dedicated to the promotion of hygienic design in every aspect of food production.

To date, the consortium is made up of 430 companies and 60 universities, institutes and authorities. The consortium has access to over 1,400 key industry representatives from 55 different countries, that provide a significant food safety network across the world[1].

Many of the product recalls in the EU are related to cross-contamination of the food product from the processing environment or processing equipment rather than from failures in the manufacturing process.

Benefits of membership

The hygienic design of buildings, equipment, services etc. in the food production environment is fundamental to the manufacture of safe food and drink. Indeed, many of the product recalls in the EU are related to cross-contamination of the food product from the processing environment or processing equipment rather than from failures in the manufacturing process. Hygienic design is thus a key prerequisite in managing food safety and wholesomeness. Hygienic design also leads to increased food product quality by management of the product line flows, and reduced manufacturing costs via ease of cleanability.

The principles of hygienic design are simple. In essence, they are to design something that is easy to clean and safe in contact with food, i.e. durable and non-toxic. Hygienic design principles include designing equipment and facilities that minimise:

• small surface irregularities, such as crevices, that could provide microbial or allergen harbourage sites or growth niches;

• small dead areas that could provide harbourage for microbial or allergenic materials;

• large dead areas that could provide harbourage for materials that could provide brand protection issues, such as meat species or pests;

• contamination of the product by foreign bodies arising from the equipment (glass, metal etc.);

• contamination of the product with chemicals arising from the equipment e.g. lubricants;

• the retention of, e.g. cleaning chemicals, by being drainable and quick and easy to dry.

Hygienically designed equipment and facilities should, as appropriate, be made from food contact compliant materials.

Hygienic design provides:

• defence against external factory hazards (chemical pollution, airborne microorganisms, flooding, pests etc.)

• defence against internal factory hazards – no harbourage sites and ease of cleaning

• internal flows of people, product, packaging, air and wastes to prevent cross-contamination

• security against deliberate contamination

• the maintenance of hygienic conditions via structure rigidity and material durability – appropriate foundations, steelwork, floor slabs, surface finishes etc.

Members of EHEDG get access to information that will help maximise food safety through application of hygienic design based on advice provided by consortium members with expertise in their field. They can also purchase the EHEDG Guidelines, attend EHEDG events and training at a discounted cost and become involved in the development of future Guidelines, test methods and training materials.

EHEDG activities

Working Groups

At any one time, over 400 consortium members are actively involved in EHEDG Working Groups. These groups continually develop, write and revise EHEDG Guidelines and other reference documents. Each group’s membership is made up of volunteer industry experts with relevant industry knowledge and experience.


EHEDG currently publishes 48 Guidelines covering everything from buildings design to cleaning validation. Some Guidelines are available as free downloads.

Regional Sections

EHEDG currently has 32 Regional Sections, with more waiting to become fully established. The role of the Regional Section is to disseminate know-how by translating the guidelines into the local language, by holding conferences, and by highlighting the EHEDG Certification and Training programmes.

Equipment certification

EHEDG equipment testing and certification is recognised worldwide and more than 520 items or assemblies of equipment have now been successfully certificated.


Members of the Training & Education Working Group commit themselves to developing high-quality and practically-oriented training material, for both industry and academia, based on the EHEDG guidelines. The group is a team of experts mainly from the user industries, academia, educational institutes and consultancy. Members are the only ones authorised to teach and impart know-how based on the EHEDG guideline portfolio. Currently there are 5 training courses available:

• EHEDG Advanced Course on Hygienic Design

• CIP-Cleaning of pipe lines and tanks

• EHEDG Basic Course on Hygienic Design

• Contamination Control

• Hygienic Design in closed / open processes

Additionally, the Working Group is committed to assisting with training upon request, when available.

World Congress

The World Congress on Hygienic Engineering & Design is EHEDG’s flagship event, taking place every two years at different locations in Europe. The event is a summit for all target groups concerned with hygienic engineering, installation and integration of equipment and facilities for the production and processing of safe food and related products. Designed to educate, equip and empower the delegates, the Congress aims to deliver practical know-how for improving product safety, process efficacy and production efficiencies by hygienic engineering and design.

The key objectives of the Congress are:

• To raise the awareness and analyse the relevance of the hygienic design of the food manufacturing infrastructure to food safety, quality and manufacturing costs

• To provide focus on open and closed plant cleaning and planned preventative maintenance as key prerequisites to ensure the continued hygienic condition of the manufacturing infrastructure

• To present the EHEDG activities as a European and world-wide operating authority in this field by guideline publication, expert working groups, equipment testing and certification as well as high-level training

• To promote the creation of local and international networks to identify any knowledge gaps and problems in hygienic engineering and to provide adequate solutions related to hygienic equipment, installations and processes as well as overall food safety.

• To showcase academic developments in the fields of cleaning and food safety culture that will impact the future design and maintenance of a hygienic manufacturing infrastructure

• To provide a meeting platform for experts, decision-makers and newcomers in the field of hygienic design and to enhance the dialogue between equipment and plant manufacturers, food producers and processors, authorities and academia.

Links between IFST and EHEDG

In 2016, the IFST Western Branch Committee organised its first conference on hygienic design at Eastwood Park, Gloucestershire. Many of the speakers were EHEDG members and each provided practical advice, with regard to the selection of hygienically designed equipment

Joint IFST and Campden BRI meeting in

and infrastructure to an audience composed mostly of IFST members, students, auditors and representatives of the local authorities.

Following the success of this event a second joint event on hygienic design was hosted by IFST and Campden BRI in 2017. The Conference was a sell out and, judging by the feedback, a hit with all who attended.

This year the EHEDG World Congress on Hygienic Engineering and Design will be held at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London’s Docklands on 20-22 November in conjunction with Food Matters Live.

Food Matters Live is the UK’s only event dedicated to creating cross-sector connections focused on the future of food, drink and sustainable nutrition. It brings together over 800 exhibitors, 400 speakers, 16,000 visitors and 100 free-to-attend conference and seminar programmes to enable collaboration and innovation in support of a sustainable food and drink future. EHEDG has selected this event as an ideal platform for the 2018 World Congress.

The Congress will offer practical information on best practice, as developed within EHEDG guidelines, taking into consideration all legal requirements, guidance and expert advice. It will also provide information about new and innovative ways to manage food industry hygiene, through both oral and poster presentation of research conducted by industry and academia.

The Congress programme has now been finalised and Colin Dennis will deliver the Day 1 Keynote address. As a former President of IFST, this reinforces the links between the two organisations. Other eminent European scientists and engineers, from both industry and academia, will speak during the 2-day event.

The event provides an excellent opportunity for IFST members to mingle with EHEDG experts, realise the benefits of hygienic design, gain access to guidance and training, and discover the hygienic design innovations of the future.

It also provides EHEDG members with the opportunity to find out more about IFST and all the benefits that it has to offer as the UK’s leading professional body supporting the food industry.

Both organisations share the same aims of advancing food science and technology based on impartial science and knowledge sharing together with personal development and recognition.

Debra Smith

Global Hygiene Specialist, Vikan

Debra has over 30 years of food safety/research training and experience. At Vikan Foods she is responsible for providing expert hygiene advice and support to the food industry and for the development of new and improved cleaning tools. Prior to joining Vikan, she worked in the microbiology laboratory of Bernard Matthews Farms, the Food Safety Division of Defra and as Food Hygiene Research Manager at Campden BRI. She holds qualifications in Applied Microbiology (HNC), Nutrition & Food Science (BSc (Hons)), and Advanced Food Hygiene and HACCP. She is also a qualified FSSC 22000 auditor, an active Committee Member of both the European Hygienic Design Engineering Group (EHEDG, UK & Ireland Regional Section) and the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST, Eastern Region), and is currently Chair of Campden BRIs Microbiology Members Interest Group. Debra has been actively involved with EHEDG since 2004, when she joined the Hygiene Department at Campden BRI. Since then she has been working to forge closer links between the IFST and EHEDG.



The next EHEDG World Congress will take place from 21 to 22 November 2018. Registration is now open: registration/



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