By Andy Hanacek, editor-in-chief

Hanacek: Energy efficiency is the first thing to come to mind when discussing facility lighting challenges, but what are some of the other issues protein (or food) processors face when choosing lighting solutions for their processing areas?

Bail: In accordance with the 2009 NSF Cook & Thurber Food Safety, Quality and Food Defense Expectations and Criteria for Food Processing Facilities, it’s also important to keep in mind the following requirements for facility lighting and protection:

Overhead structures such as ventilation units, light fixtures, electrical raceways, piping, conveyors, etc., must be clean and free of product buildup, dust, mold, rust, peeling paint and condensation.

Plant lighting shall be of such design and construction to provide adequate illumination in product areas, support areas and storage areas. The lighting fixtures shall provide adequate protection from breakage and possible contamination.

a) General plant lighting should be a minimum of 30-foot candles.

b) Lighting at inspection & product sorting areas should be a minimum of 50-foot candles.

c) All glass lighting shall be completely enclosed in shatterproof protective shields or manufactured with shatterproof materials to prevent glass contamination of product. This includes all operating areas, warehouses, packaging, receiving and shipping docks, storage areas, maintenance, toilet areas, break rooms, and welfare areas. All lights must be protected, including but not limited to, emergency lights, forklift lights, and adjustable trailer lights on the dock.

d) Light fixtures shall be maintained clean and free of cracks, dust or other materials that could cause contamination. Protective covers in processing areas shall be kept free of any evidence of moisture accumulation inside the covers.

e) A periodic assessment of this program is required.

A pre-operational checklist shall be used to verify that plant and equipment are clean and sanitary. All equipment, containers, utensils, walls, floors, ceilings, light fixtures, miscellaneous overhead structures, etc., should be evaluated for visual cleanliness.

a) A routine documented inspection program must be in place to assess sanitation practices & conditions.

b) Deficiencies noted and corrective actions taken must be documented.

Hanacek: Is there still much innovation left to discover in the realm of facility lighting, or will it take a “quantum leap” of sorts for the next big problem-solving solution to arrive on processors’ doorsteps?

Bail: There is still some room for new technology when it comes to facility lighting to ensure there shall be “adequate lighting” for all types of activity performed. The move toward shatterproof coated light bulbs is good because it eliminates the need for light covers, many of which are brittle plastic themselves. This tends to make the lighting units mechanically simpler, with fewer chances of component failure and resulting contamination.

NSF International, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, is the world leader in standards development, product certification, education and risk-management for public health and safety. For more information on third-party audits, contact Jim Bail at or visit