In the food processing and manufacturing industry, food grade standards of safety are regulated with a strong hand by federal and government sanctioned agencies.  Especially in the case of meat, poultry, and produce, these federal regulations are set in place in order to protect the well-being of the general population.  A certain “marriage” between safety and cost-efficiency is a challenge to every meat, poultry, and/or seafood processing company.

Food grade curtains are a cost-efficient solution to divide work areas in a food processing facility (and offer the ability to open up an area, as needed).   These specialized food curtains have a unique construction that caters to food safety requirements as well as flexibility.  There are several food grade curtain options that keep regulatory safety in mind which food processing dividers offers at a fraction of the cost.

Food Grade Curtain Materials: What Are They Made Of?

In addition to specialized construction and track systems, the material itself is approved for food grade use.  A .040” thick, flexible and clear PVC material is used, which also has a certification of CFR Title 21 Part 174-182.  In addition to this, the material itself was produced with a formulation that meets and / or exceeds the requirements of U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Class VI Revision 22.  This is a standard that is used for all FDA and USDA customers.  Simply stated – this material was designed to serve facility requirements that require food grade standards.

Welded Food Curtain Wall Construction

The food curtain wall replaces the stitching (found in regular curtains) with a vinyl welding process, which is used on all seams and edges.

This unique welded construction helps adhere to the FDA Food Code 2009 6-101.11 regarding Physical Facilities, Materials and Construction and Repair, Indoor Areas.  According to this code, the surface characteristics of construction material for indoor floor, wall and ceiling surfaces under conditions of normal use shall be smooth, durable, and easily cleanable for area where food establishment operations are conducted.”

Number 3 of this same section states that the surfaces must also be “… nonabsorbent for areas subject to moisture such as food preparation areas, walk-in refrigerators, warewashing areas, toilet rooms, mobile food establishment servicing areas, and areas subject to flushing or spray cleaning methods.”

Since the food curtain wall has heat sealed seams, this takes out the “absorbency” factor which is mentioned in this section.  The absence of “organic,” fabric threads will prevent such moisture from absorbing, further disallowing contaminants and bacteria to fester and grow.

Stainless Steel Fixtures for Food Processing Dividers

Normal curtains have metal grommets along the top that are made of brass, nickel, copper, or other types of metal.  In warehouse facilities, the general type of hardware that is used is made of some type of galvanized metal.  But according to FDA Food Code 2013 4-101.15 entitled “Galvanized Metal, Use Limitation,” it states the following:

“Galvanized metal may not be used for utensils or food-contact surfaces of equipment that are used in contact with acidic food.” 

In some cases, galvanized steel is sometimes used above an approved drop ceiling with a t-bar grid system – but in most cases, you may want to use stainless steel to make sure your system will help your food facility meet compliance.

In the case of curtain system components (wheeled trolley hooks, industrial curtain track rails, and/or any other retractable or stationary mounting options), friction between the two surfaces would wear down and eventually “chip” away at the galvanized metal surface.  These “chips” have a strong possibility of contamination when a pressurized wash-down cycle occurs, or even if you are simply retracting the curtain.

In order to drastically reduce the possibility of contaminants affecting products and/or processes as well as follow compliance, a stainless steel industrial track system is preferred for a food processing facility when choosing to use an industrial curtain.  Proper construction of a complete food grade curtain system would include stainless steel track metal hardware.  Even the grommets would be stainless steel, as an added measure of safety for the food processing facility.

Additional Benefits of a Food Grade Curtain Wall

A food grade curtain provides the following:

1)    Separation of Two Areas

2)    Food Processing Divider helps meet and/or exceed compliance

3)    Flexibility to retract the curtain when not in use, or re-configure the food processing areas.

4)    Smooth, easy to clean surface helps down on wash down cycles

5)    Saves money in two ways:

  1. Installation only takes days to complete
  2. The smooth, easy-to-clean surface makes wash down cycles more time efficient

Give AmCraft a call today to begin speaking with one of our technical specialists about your food grade curtain project!

For more information on compliance, visit:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/default.htm