How epoxy coatings can help meet 3-A sanitation standards
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Title 21, Sec. 110.20, Part B addresses
Buildings and Facilities. The first standards known commonly as "3-A Standards"
were introduced in the 1920s for milk pipe fittings. Three groups, professional
sanitarians, equipment fabricators, and processors joined together to develop
sanitation standards. These groups included the forerunners of today’s
associations that represent these interest groups, including the International
Association for Food Protection, the Food Processing Suppliers Association, the
International Dairy Foods Association, and the American Dairy Products
Institute. Today, these interested parties compose the 3-A Administrative Symbol
Council along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and
3-A Sanitary Standards specify the criteria
for the design and fabrication of equipment that comes into contact with food.
Specifically, the goal of 3-A Sanitary Standards is to protect food from
contamination and ensure that all product contact surfaces can be mechanically
cleaned and be dismantled easily for manual cleaning or inspection.
Food production facilites are subject to
inspection for general sanitary design and installation. Inspections are
routinely conducted under the jurisdiction of federal, state, and local
regulatory agencies. 3-A standards serve as important references for state and
federal regulatory authorities. In addition, 3-A standards have been adopted
into some state regulatory codes.
The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)/Food
and Drug Administration approves use of the 3-A Symbol on dairy and food
equipment for three important purposes:
Assures processors that equipment meets
Provides accepted criteria to equipment
manufacturers for sanitary design
Establishes guidelines for uniform evaluation
and compliance by sanitarians.
Epoxy coatings are included as an acceptable type of treatment and coating.
Every 3-A Sanitary Standard includes a materials section which describes
coatings that are acceptable for product contact and those for nonproduct
contact. Sanitary specifications dictate allowed materials, with the ultimate
criteria being based on the environment of intended use. Properly cured epoxy
coatings have been found to be accepted materials suitable for sanitary
application, are durable, and are nontoxic. The benchmark for materials is the
AISI 300. Rubber and rubber-like materials, as well as plastics like epoxy
coatings, are the most common material exceptions to stainless steel. Specific
3-A Sanitary Standards have been developed for rubber, rubber-like, and plastic
materials. Thus, whenever these materials are used in product contact areas,
they must conform to these materials standards.
Epoxy coatings can be helpful in meeting smoothness requirements addressed by
the 3-A Sanitary Standards. These standards specify fabrication criteria for
equipment to be cleanable and to preclude the contamination of the product. The
Sanitary criteria always include surface finish requirements, generally
equivalent to or smoother than a 32 µin. (0.8 µm) radius, that is free from
imperfections such as pits, folds, and crevices.
The integrity of sealed product contact and
nonproduct contact surfaces must not be compromised. In the development of 3-A
standards, the usual procedure is to include verbiage in the Appendix that the
32 µin. (0.8 µm) Radius smoothness is generally achieved by provision of a No. 4
finish. The Format and Style Manual details the minimum radii requirements for
product contact surfaces. For some equipment, 1/4 in. may be specified as the
normative minimum radius, but usually with certain exceptions having lesser
specified radii. For other equipment, the appropriate normative radius might be
1/8 in., again with some exceptions. Sharp internal angles are hard to clean;
the use of epoxy coatings can help create gently curved corners making cleaning
For a detailed quote of materials needed to create smooth epoxy surface coatings, please
visit our free cost analysis page at
For more information, contact Chris Biesanz
at email@example.com or phone 1-800-466-8910 or 952-888-1488
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