Blue is good, Detectability is better.

There’s a lot to say about the color blue.

But the fact that blue is being associated with safety, especially with machine builders and users requires some reflection.

For food contact materials there are certain European (Ec) and American (FDA) regulations. Looking through those you’re searching in vain for a specific color. Every color is okay as long as it follows the regulations.

Why then do all those machine parts and robot grippers in the food industry have to be blue?
There are a couple of arguments to be made for this but the two most relevant are: Visibility and Hygienic Perception.


First off Visibility: Blue is a color that contrasts well with most foodstuff, which is why food contact materials in this color are easy to differentiate from the food being processed.
This can be especially useful in production-and processing environments where all kinds of different materials and tools are being used so having a clear distinction is necessary to prevent cross-contamination.

Hygienic Perception

Second point is Hygienic Perception: Blue is associated with cleanliness and hygiene. In food processing facilities blue colored tools, containers or equipment can send out a message of cleanliness and are therefore used in areas where hygiene is of the upmost importance.


Working from that means the color blue is practically standard in the field, however there is no lawful regulations.
Having the blue correspond to a certain Ral or Pantone shade is therefore purely a choice of esthetics: It looks nice.

The person who thinks that just coloring their food-contact materials blue is enough for a production environment will be disappointed.
Eventhough it was a conscious choice to make these parts blue, in practical situations not a lot is being done with the visibility.
Fact is that wear and tear works on all parts which end up contaminating the products.


How many production lines are there where there is a (continuous) checking for blue wear and tear particles?
It has nothing to do with the color, that contrasts nicely.
The position of these particles is not always visible for checking.
A frequent check up on the wear and tear of the parts is still the best solution.
However when these are blue through and through it can be difficult to spot these places.
A lot of times we’ll hear a customer ask for “Blue through and through”, because a part where the blue top layer is missing “doesn’t look as nice”. Or “As long as it’s blue it’s good right?”

With the end-user in mind, apart from periodic checks of the equipment the only options are using X-ray or magnet detectable materials. A nice bonus is that the detectors for that are often times built in to the production line.

Blue is good, Detectable is better.

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