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A Guide on All You Need To Know About Food Industry Lighting

Food Industry Lighting…

What is it and why is it critical for you to find the right one for your facility?

This is a question that bothers a lot of people.

But:

Before we dive into that, let’s set the groundwork for this topic.

We can all agree:

Current lighting technologies tend to be very specific in terms of application and usage areas.

And that’s a good thing, right?

Think of it this way:

When a fixture is tailored to be used in a specific environment, all its features and functions are geared toward ensuring it performs optimally and lasts for long.

This is why it’s often wise to go for specialized fixtures because they offer you more value and a longer service lifespan.

Note:

Using the wrong type of fixture can result in several issues including:

  • The light underperforming.
  • Unwarranted dimming.
  • Premature failure.
  • Flickering among other things.

And that means that you’ll not only lose your initial investment but also you’d have to go shopping for new fixtures sooner than expected.

You don’t want that, do you?

If so, you need to get the right lights for your factory; be it residential or, otherwise, commercial.

In this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about food processing lighting fixtures as well as how to choose the best ones for your business.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started…

Food industry lighting

Table of content, enjoy it:

Chapter 1: What Is Food Industry Lighting?

Now:

Before I get into the nitty-gritty details about the importance of this kind of light, you must first understand what I mean when referring to food industry lighting.

The question we want to answer here is; why do we have to be this specific?

Well, to put it simply:

Food Industry Lighting are fixtures – or a system of lights – that have been tailored to meet the needs of a food processing plant/factory/space.

This means that these fixtures not only provide ample illumination as required but also brave the – sometimes – harsh environments in most food factories.

Get it?

So, what does this mean?

When shopping for lighting fixtures for your food processing space, you cannot just walk into a shop and pick the first fixture you find.

Your ideal fixture has to meet certain criteria for it to be deemed worthy of its intended purpose.

Simply put:

The fixture has to fulfill several objectives in order to be deemed worthy.

So, what are some of these objectives?

Objectives to Be Met By Lighting Fixtures for Food Processing Plants

1. Durability and Reliability

The first and, arguably, the most important objectives any light fixture needs to meet is durability and reliability.

Get this:

When you install a light system, you expect it to perform as intended whenever you need it, right? That’s called reliability.

Also, after investing a large sum of money in setting up a new, more efficient lighting system, you want something that will serve you the longest, right? This is where durability comes in.  

Food lights that offer you both durability and reliability are not only good investments but also the most convenient fixtures available in the market.

Therefore, before you place your order for new lights, ensure that you get both of these features.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Isn’t it economically obvious?

A dollar saved is a dollar earned! Right?

The new fixtures you decide to use should be more cost-efficient than the ones you have currently.

And that’s because getting a cost-effective lighting system means that you’ll have more money to divert to other important aspects/projects in your business.

So, how do you achieve cost-effective lighting?

Well, by investing in fixtures that fit the following criteria:

  • Only a few are needed to light up an area that needed many of the old fixtures (high-luminous flux and a lower initial cost).
  • The fixtures should be energy-efficient (hence, reducing your monthly lighting bill).
  • Fixtures that are low maintenance (thus, very little effort and resources are needed to keep these lights running).
  • Lights that offer better and sufficient illumination (thus, improving workflow and productivity while, at the same time, minimizing costly losses, damages, and injuries).
  • Lastly, the fixtures should have a longer lifespan (therefore, you won’t have to deal with the stresses and expenses that come with replacing a bulb).

Get it?

3. Optimized Visibility within the Workspace

Yes!

The light fixture you choose to buy has to deliver optimized illumination.

What does this mean?

Well, the light produced has to be bright enough and accurate in terms of color rendering to ensure that there’s a productive working environment.

To put it plainly, you want a fixture that:

  • Is comfortable to work under.
  • Has a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) for an accurate representation of everything on the workspace.
  • Is bright enough.
  • Offers evenly distributed lighting.
  • Is easy to manipulate to meet your needs at any given time.
  • Doesn’t have glare, heating, and humming issues.

4. Provides a Safe Working Environment

Lastly:

You want a fixture that is not only safe to use in a food processing environment but also ensures your space is safe and secure at all times.

For starters, good lighting helps to complement your facility’s architecture by making sure that all pathways are well lit and traffic is moving smoothly. 

What’s more?

A good lighting fixture should be able to offer clarity; allowing employees to see even the smallest specks of dirt.

That way, they can keep the processing space clean and sanitary at all times.

Another thing:

Proper lighting allows you to spot any flaws, errors, and health concerns that might accidentally occur along your food handling process.

Hence, allowing you ample time to fix the issue before it worsens or lands you in trouble.

Anyway:

Objectives aside, you’ve probably been wondering why it is imperative to use food-safe lighting.

In other words, why can’t you use any other type of fixture in your food factory?

If so, here’s what you need to know:

The Importance of Food Industry Lighting

Here:

I’ll focus more on LED light fixtures; mainly because they are the best ones available for food lighting.

And, don’t worry, I’ll explain why later on in this post.

For now:

Let’s answer this question – why is using the right lighting important?

Here’s what I know…

1. LEDs Thrive in Cold Temperatures

Looking at most food processing environments, there’s one similarity that always stands out – Cold Temperatures.

Why?

Cold temperatures are often a result of refrigeration and other preservation methods meant to increase the lifespan of the food products being processed e.g. in a meat processing plant.

As such:

The light fixtures used need to be highly resistant to the harshness and negative effects that cooler temperatures have on lighting fixtures.

Right?

And that’s why LEDs are the best in these environments.

You see, unlike other traditional sources of lighting like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, LEDs work better under cold temperatures.

Awesome?

Therefore, using LEDs in a cold food processing plant guarantees you the best performance and lighting you can get from these fixtures for years to come.

2. LEDs Save You Money

Yes!

Despite having a higher initial cost than most lighting technologies, LEDs are the most cost-effective lighting systems available today.

As a food processing factory owner, the only way to increase your profit margins is by cutting down costs, right?

If so, LEDs help you achieve that due to the fact that they are:

  • Very Low-Maintenance– You won’t spend much to keep them running. Plus, you can forget about having to replace your fixtures every year when you have LEDs.
  • Very EnergyEfficient– Being energy efficient means that these lights use less energy than standard lighting fixtures. By how much, you ask? Well, an LED light can reduce lighting energy consumption by up to 80%. And that is the same amount of savings you’ll see on your monthly electrical bill.

Not to mention:

The fact that LEDs offer ample lighting means that there will be fewer accidents, damages, and losses in your factory; hence, more savings for you.

3. LEDs Offer You Safety and Security

When dealing with employees and factory workers, one of the biggest considerations you have to make is their well-being and safety.

Right?

The last thing you want is to deal with lawsuits and hefty insurance claims as a result of workplace injuries and visual health concerns.

Note:

A lot of workplace injuries are always a result of poor lighting in areas where your workforce frequents.

And:

The only way to avoid the repercussions that follow is by making sure that every nook and cranny of your factory is well lit.

4. LED Food Light Fixtures Are Designed For Processing Environments

Now:

As I’ve said before, specialized lighting systems are often designed to work best in their intended environments.

When it comes to food manufacturing lighting, the same principle applies.

How?

Well, take the ShineLong Gauls IP68 Tubular LED light, for example. It’s one of the best food lights in the industry today.

But:

What makes it ideal for a food processing plant?

  • It’s an IP68 fixture– Meaning it is well protected from intrusion and damage by dust, water, and moisture. Therefore, any dust from dry, cereal or moisture from wet, soft foods will not end up damaging this fixture.
  • It has an IK09 Rating – This means that it can also withstand the impact from strong projectiles and other items that come to contact with it.
  • It has a cylindrical shape – Making it easy to clean and maintain.
  • Very long lifespan – To ensure that you enjoy years of proper lighting even if you use your fixtures for more hours than standard lights.
  • High luminous efficacies– The ShineLong Gauls LED can yield up to 130 lumens per watt. And that makes it very energy efficient and bright enough to keep your factory well-lit.
  • Dimming capabilities – the best part is that you can dim this fixture in case the light is too much or causing visual discomfort.

You get the point, right?

Not many fixtures can boast of having such qualities.

The only difference here is that this fixture (ShineLong Gauls LED) is made for food processing spaces.

5. Food Lighting LEDs Have a Higher CRI

Lastly:

To ensure that operations carry on seamlessly and that close attention to detail is possible, you need to use light fixtures that have a higher CRI.

CRI stands for Color Rendering Index; which is the measure of how accurate a light fixture is at representing colors as compared to natural light.

Now:

CRI ranges from 0 (worst color rendering) to 100 (the same as natural light). Therefore, a fixture with a CRI of over 80 can be used for food processing, right?

Well, most LEDs offer a CRI of between 85 and 95, and that is not only impressive but also makes these fixtures some of the best you can use for food industry lighting.

Basically:

Using high-CRI lights allows you to:

  • Spot mold formation in time.
  • See whether there’s any discoloration.
  • Check if the food looks as it should or if there’s any cause for alarm.
  • Note if contaminants make their way into your food processing system.
  • And so much more.

Anyway:

Now that you know what food processing light is, we can look at a few important details about these fixtures.

For example:

Chapter 2: What Food Processing Lighting Standards Do You Need To Know in 2020?

Get this:

The food industry is a pivotal part of our continued survival.

And as such, there are a ton of rules, regulations, and standards that govern how food is produced, processed, shipped, stored, and distributed.

And that’s why we have food industry lighting standards.

Simply put:

These are just rules or guidelines put in place to ensure that every food processing plant adheres to the best lighting practices for better and safer food production.

Obviously:

The biggest question in your mind right now is; what are these standards?

If so, here are some of them…

Food Industry Lighting Standards

Now:

For a fixture to pass as ideal for use in food industry illumination, it must meet the following standards…

1. Must Withstand Rigorous Cleaning and Hose-Down Protocols

Food processing areas follow very strict sanitary protocols. Therefore, the fixture you choose must be easy to clean frequently and with a lot of water.

Most LED food lights come with an IP67 to IP69K protection rating because of this requirement.

2. The Fixture Must Contain No Toxic Materials

For obvious health and safety reasons, it is prudent to use fixtures that don’t contain any toxic materials in them.

That way, in case of breakage, the food being processed won’t be contaminated by the fixture’s toxic components e.g. mercury and phosphorous.

Luckily, LED lights are eco-friendly and contain no toxic substances; hence, they are ideal for food processing.

3. Must Be Highly Resistant To Corrosion and Shatterproof

Light fixtures used in food processing need to be shatterproof to prevent broken glass or plastic from contaminating food.

And that’s why the NSF (National Science Foundation) established a safety rating that requires all food lighting sources to be impact resistant, hence, preventing breakage on impact. Preferably, go for fixtures labeled IK09 or IK10.

In terms of corrosion, the fixtures used should not be easily corroded. Note that corrosion is often a result of two or more materials reacting to each other to form a compound. The resulting compound can be a poisonous contaminant if left unchecked.

LEDs often have aluminum and high-quality plastic polymers; thus, making them both corrosion resistant and shatterproof.

4. Must Have Wet Location Safety Listing

These fixtures also need to have a UL wet location safety listing signifying that they’ve been tried and tested and found to be safe and effective even in wet environments.

5. The Fixture Must Have Stringent Third-Party Certifications

To ensure that the light fixture has been approved for food processing applications, you need to check and see whether it has all the relevant certifications to back its intended application.

Therefore, be on the lookout for these certifications:

  • UL (Safety Certification)
  • RoHS (Eco-Friendliness Compliance)
  • FDA/FSIS/IES/USDA (Illuminance Requirement Compliance)

6. Must Perform Long-Term, In the Cold Temperatures within Freezers

You must also check to see if the LED fixture has been labeled as fit for use in low-temperature environments.

Luckily, Most LEDs operate comfortably between -20 and 50 Degrees Celsius.

7. Must Meet Specific Illumination Requirements

Lastly, there are specific standards set aside that determine the illuminance needed to comfortably and properly light up each part of a processing plant.

Here’s a quick summary table you can use to find the right fixture for you:

Processing Stage/Area
Lux
Foot Candles
Raw Material Receiving
215 to 320
20 to 30
Product Inspection Areas
1180 to 1400
110 to 130
Packaging Area
750 to 860
70 to 80
Maintenance Areas
750 to 860
70 to 80
Managerial Offices
645 to 970
60 to 90
Processing Areas
590 to 700
55 to 65
Finished Manufactured Goods Warehouse
215 to 323
20 to 30
Ingredient Store Room
215 to 320
20 to 30
Bulk Ingredient Storage
320 to 430
30 to 40
Locker And Rest Rooms
320 to 540
30 to 50
Cafeteria
430 to 540
40 to 50

Note:

Only fixtures that meet the above standards can be termed as ideal for food lighting.

So, what benefits do you get from these standards?

Find out, next…

Benefits of Following These Standards

  1. You get to stay on the right side of the law. That’s because failure to follow some of these standards can have serious legal repercussions.
  2. You also get to prevent premature light failures. When you buy the right fixtures, it’s hard for them to get damaged because they are designed for such an environment.
  3. You’re going to minimize your maintenance needs and expenses. Thanks to the fact that food lighting fixtures are highly sealed, cleaning and maintenance become less labor-intensive.
  4. You get to cut down on your energy expenses. As you already know, LEDs can cut your lighting power usage by up to 80%. And for big factories, these savings could equate to thousands of dollars.
  5. You won’t need to buy many fixtures. If you thought you’d have to replace your old traditional fixtures with the same number of LED lights, you were wrong. LEDs offer high luminous efficacies; therefore, a few of them can go a long way in ensuring your space remains well lit.

And this brings us to our next question…

Chapter 3: How Can You Choose the Best Lighting for Your Food Facility?

Well:

It’s quite obvious by now – you need a food processing LED lighting fixture.

Still wondering; why?

Here’s a quick recap of everything you’ve learned in this post.

An ideal food facility light must be:

  • Durable and reliable.
  • Very cost-effective.
  • Able to offer optimized visibility.
  • Able to create a safe working environment for your workforce.
  • Corrosion-resistant.
  • Waterproof, dustproof, and vapor-proof.
  • Able to offer a CRI of 80 and above.
  •  
  • Low maintenance and easy to clean.
  • Eco-friendly with no toxic components.
  • Certified by reputable safety and lighting authorities.
  • A performer even in cold environments.
  • Be able to deliver the required amount of lux at any time.

If you find a fixture that fulfills most – if not all – of these conditions, then it’s probably a pretty good food industry light fixture.

Now:

Before I wrap this post up, here’s one more question people often ask…

Chapter 4: Is UV Light Safe For Pathogen Reduction In Food Processing?

Long story, short – YES!

In fact, the use of UV (Ultra Violet) light in food processing started over 50 years ago.

Note:

That UV is categorized into three sub-groups of electromagnetic waves; i.e. UV-As, UV-Bs, and UV-Cs.

Of the three, UV-Cs are the strongest and have germicidal qualities/capabilities.

Nowadays, we’re seeing UVC light being used to kill bacteria frequently; not only in foods and beverages but also in the air and on surfaces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And:

Remarkably, UVC light can kill up to 99% of germs lurking in the air and foodborne pathogens.

No!

Unlike cool white LEDs, warm fixtures are designed to mask blue light with high amounts of orange and yellow light.

That way you get way less – or even zero – blue light exposure while using an LED fixture.

In Summary…

That’s it – everything you need to know about food industry lighting.

Evidently, there are so many reasons why you need to consider looking for special-use light fixtures when it comes to food processing.

And the best part is that once you do, you get to enjoy so many benefits.

Anyway:

I hope this post has been helpful.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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