Tougher hygiene regulations are forcing processors to perform more stringent washdowns of machinery and equipment. This in turn is encouraging the development of more efficient methods of cleaning. Eliisa Rajasaari, Vulganus sales and marketing manager, told FoodProductionDaily.com that the Steriline Ultrasonic is revolutionary in terms of belt washer development as it employs ultrasound technology to sterilize equipment, enabling savings for processors as chemicals are not used. "Hygiene has been the main goal of our continuous product development," claims Rajasaari. Utrasound treatments use high frequencies, usually at around 20 kHz, to pass through cleaning liquids and collapse bubbles, releasing energy that kills bacteria. Rapid microbe removal "The effectiveness of the Steriline Ultrasonic has been proved by tests by impartial researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki during the Hygila project for equipment hygiene in food processing," she claims. The trials showed that the bacteria on the belt surface were eliminated in only 10-20 seconds, according to the company. Listeria monocytogenes are a particular problem for food processors because a small concentration of organisms can cause illness in humans and current detection methods are complex and time consuming. Energy savings According to Rajasaari, the Ultrasonic can lessen the environmental footprint of food manufacturers beyond a reduction in chemical usage: "Energy consumption is just under 50 per cent less than traditional washing systems, and, in terms of water consumption, the savings are even bigger." No blind spotsRajasaari claims that the Steriline Ultrasonic does not have an effect on the end product itself, only the equipment. "The exceptional sterilizing effect of the Steriline Ultrasonic enables every single spot of the belt to be covered - even those 'blind spots' that no water spray could reach," she said. "The Ultrasonic can also be used without detergents; however, often grease or residues of products need to be removed from the belt surface, and degreasers and caustics can help in this process, followed by sterilization of the belt surface by means of the Ultrasonic," said Rajasaari.