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Electric energy is an economically reliable choice for food production environments. To keep your operation safe and reliable, it’s essential to choose the proper components that are easy to maintain, easy to keep clean, and use electricity efficiently.

In order to utilize electric equipment in food processing environments, they must be constructed to withstand dust, dirt, moisture, washdown in a wide range of temperature environments. They also need to be designed with access for sanitation, inspection, and maintenance in mind.


Food facility lighting fixtures must be energy efficient and easy to clean and maintain. Fixtures containing glass components must be designed to prevent the risk of glass breakage, which will contaminate food products. One approach involves using fixtures that are protected with coatings or shatter-resistant lenses. LED lighting has become the standard for most operations, and glass is less of a concern since these fixtures do not use glass lamps. If a facility is subject to washdown, fixtures must also be enclosed, gasketed, and easily cleanable.

Lighting is also designed to meet recommended guidelines for footcandle levels. Foot-candle levels should correspond to the function and work being done in the space, such as storage, processing areas, and mechanical rooms. Most importantly, the area needs to be well-lit for cleaning. Within processing spaces, lights need to have the proper color rendering index to prevent visual product inspection errors.

Electric Panels

Electric panels, boxes, and switches are often located in areas where food is being processed. In areas where wet cleaning is utilized, enclosures are designed with washdown protection and durability as a priority with the proper NEMA ratings for these environments. Areas where the potential for fires or explosion is a concern (due to dusty environments or the presence of combustible vapors) must have explosion-proof housings.


Electrical motors need to withstand washdown environments and be constructed using corrosion-resistant material such as stainless steel. Motors that are enclosed must be internally cooled and able to withstand extreme temperature changes.


The routing of conduits and cables—even how they are fastened—impact the ability to sanitize and clean a food facility. Materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, and PVC must be applied properly in order to maintain durability and a sanitary environment. Standoffs must be used when connecting to walls or other surfaces in processing environments. Connection of conduits can include rigid, EMT, and flexible seal tight.

Conduit seal-offs should be used wherever conduits pass between spaces of different temperatures. The interior of a conduit will transmit air vapor between the spaces. When the vapor enters a space that is colder than the adjacent room, it may condense and form water. The water can show up in light fixtures, electrical enclosures, and ceiling panels. The conduit’s interior must be sealed with appropriate material to prevent vapor transmission.