It is common for commercial warehouses or plants to utilize LED bulbs to enhance visual clarity, but when it comes to reasons why commercial food processing plants need LED lighting, safety is at the top of the list. Everything from the temperature of a processing plant to the safety of the employees working in it to the safety of the food being prepared can be positively impacted with the use of the right LED lighting system.
5 Unique Lighting Challenges for Commercial Food Processing Plants
Good lighting is a necessity when it comes to working with food to be able to see well to correctly use tools and machines and prepare food. However, there are some additional lighting challenges these plants face that many warehouses do not, including:
- Functionality in extremely cold temperatures such as that of freezers and refrigerators
- Avoidance of raising temperatures to an unsafe level that could cause food to spoil
- Protection of workers from poor lighting that could negatively impact employee safety
- Protection of food from breaking glass
- Protection of food from foreign substances such as dust or harmful bacteria
Fortunately, the right LED lighting plan can lend itself to addressing the above obstacles to allow for safer food preparation.
LED Lighting Functions in Both Hot and Cold Temperatures
When it comes to food preparation, some commercial food processing plants can have different areas that run the gamut of temperatures.
Areas in which food is being prepared to be sold fully cooked, the plant may have several commercial stoves or ovens operating at one time. This, in addition to heat from non-LED bulbs, can intensify the level of heat in a room which could potentially cause food to prematurely spoil while it is waiting to be cooked.
However, a plant using an LED lighting system generally has less reason to worry about LED light bulbs contributing to a rising temperature. These lights are built to be more energy efficient which allows them to convert a lower percentage of used energy into heat than incandescent or halogen light bulbs.
On the flip side, in these plants it is also important for LED lighting to function in cold temperatures. Whether in a walk-in freezer or a refrigerator, employees need to know they can safely access these areas with a reliable light source that will be unaffected by the room’s temperature.
Unlike their fluorescent counterparts, LED bulbs are designed to perform well in cold temperatures and may even experience a longer life in that environment. The bright light these bulbs emit may even allow for less lights in an area than would be needed if using older incandescent bulbs.
Impact of LED Lighting on Employee Safety
The right level of illuminance is key in helping an employee of a food processing plant to be able to do their job well and do so safely. When preparing food, it is essential they have enough light to:
- Read food and ingredient labels – If multiple ingredients go into a food that is being prepared, it is crucial that the employee be able to clearly read all labels to adhere to the standard recipe.
- Use sharp kitchen tools and utensils safely – Without enough light, the odds can go up of an employee accidentally cutting themselves or someone else in close proximity if they are using sharp knives.
- Dice, chop, and slice food – Incredibly sharp food prep tools are frequently used to assist with dicing and slicing food. With poor lighting, an employee could unintentionally cut their finger while slicing food, causing injury as well as a health hazard.
- Ensure food has been cooked properly through – Although machines are responsible for much of the cooking protocol these days, in many plants employees are still an integral part of quality control. Having enough light to ensure food has been cooked properly through is vital to a company’s credibility and integrity in the eyes of consumers.
Equally important can be the correct placement of LED bulbs. Lighting should be placed in a way that provides optimal light for stations such as counter areas and food preparation spaces. The placement of LED lights in these spaces may look different than that of bulbs used in a freezer because the light is used for different purposes.
How LED Lighting May Help Protect Food
Whenever food is being prepared in a commercial space, there are dozens if not hundreds of carefully crafted rules to follow to keep the food safe from foreign debris and bacteria. A “bent” or broken rule could yield a malfunction that could make consumers sick and yield a massive recall.
Food processing plants may benefit from using waterproof fixtures that have the capability to be hosed down as this can be helpful in reducing dust particles. Depending on the placement of the light and the facility using them, it may be necessary to clean fixtures between shifts. It is worth noting that it is critical to read and follow instructions carefully when cleaning any electrical components such as a fixture or light bulb.
As an added safety precaution, food processing plants often choose to use fixtures and LED overhead lights certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. These LED fixtures are generally designed with non-toxic materials, are corrosion resistant, and are mercury and glass free.
Let this be your light bulb moment! Commercial food processing plants need LED lighting to assist with safety in the workplace and the integrity of the food they are preparing and then sending out.