At a time when cleanliness is being demanded across every industry, it is important to recognize and understand the standards of sanitation. While there are many guidelines in the US, both federally and state mandated, certain companies are taking the extra step to achieve 3-A certification. 3-A is a voluntary standard that many companies in the food and beverage industry opt to follow for stricter guidelines on sanitation.
By Alaina Stephens, Marketing & Communications Director, Texcel
What is 3-A?
3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. is a not-for-profit company committed to food safety and hygienic equipment design. The first standards were used in the dairy industry during the 1920s. The three interest groups originally involved were regulatory sanitarians, equipment fabricators, and processors. Today membership consists of four associations: American Dairy Products Institute, International Dairy Foods Association, Food Processing Suppliers Association, and the International Association for Food Protection.
3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. provides design specifications for equipment and processes and oversees the 3-A Symbol Authorization program and other voluntary certificates. The organization also supports training and educational needs related to the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries.
Understanding Compliance and Certification
All the elements used in a hose assembly must be 3-A compliant as separate pieces, meaning each part must meet 3-A Sanitary guidelines. There are various requirements for fittings, such as design, type of metal used and post-production testing. For hoses, the materials used must meet certain hardness and absorption requirements in different chemical solutions and pass strict testing requirements as well.
Once 3-A compliant elements are chosen, then the process of coupling the hose and the space in which it is assembled is evaluated by 3-A guidelines. It is not enough to simply put together 3-A compliant parts. While a company can sell 3-A compliant hose or a 3-A compliant coupling, only companies who have taken it upon themselves to correctly put together a hose assembly in a certain sanitary space can sell certified 3-A hose assemblies.
The Certification Process
There is a complete list of 3-A standards in a searchable database on the organization’s website. For example, document 62-02 is for hose assemblies. This document provides the official requirements a hose assembly must meet to be deemed 3-A certified. Once a company has found the category in which they would like to be 3-A certified, then they must purchase and maintain a current record of these standards.
The certification of hose assemblies must be completed by location. If, for example, a company has 3 locations that produce hose assemblies, each location must go through the certification process separately.
Details such as a published company quality policy, comprehensive work instructions for training personnel, and labeling and tracking of assemblies are all required before a company can become 3-A certified for hose assemblies.
A third-party inspector, called Certified Conformance Evaluator (CCE), is required to visit the facility in which the hose assemblies will be produced and review the process and specific location. The CCE assesses that all aspects of the assembly process and standards are being followed and reports back to 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. Upon approval from the CCE, a company is officially 3-A hose assembly certified. Certification grants the company membership into 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. which includes annual dues as well as re-inspection every 5 years from the date of original issue in order to remain certified.
Sanitation in the Hose Industry
There are many steps in any food processing or beverage making system and hoses are a key piece of equipment. The transfer of foodstuffs and liquids occurs at various points in the production process before the finished product goes to market. From breweries and wineries to dairy products and food oils, all consumable products go through FDA and USDA requirements for sanitation. Companies who take the extra step in certifying their equipment and processes through 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. are ensuring the utmost cleanliness and food safety.
3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. – https://www.3-a.org/
About the Author:
Alaina Stephens is the Marketing & Communications Director at Texcel, a company that offers industrial hose and couplings, fluid sealing products and hydraulics hose and fittings to a wide array of distributors throughout the USA. Recently Texcel became 3-A certified in hose assemblies at their headquarters in Houston, Texas.