Food Safety

If it’s not safe, it’s not food

Contaminated food is a major hazard for many people, particularly in low-income regions of the world. Food safety forms a large part of Bühler’s sustainability agenda, and its technology plays a crucial role in ensuring that food stays safe.

When we talk about food security, we quite naturally focus on the idea that there should be sufficient 
food for everyone. However, we tend to forget that food must also be safe and nutritious. In fact, if it 
is not safe, it is no longer food and should not be consumed. But often people have to choose between safety, nutrition, and price, placing them at high risk of foodborne illnesses, cancer, or even death. Consumption of contaminated food has a long-term effect on people’s growth, development, and nutrient absorption, along with a higher risk of other illnesses.

Safe food is free of – or has safe levels of – harmful contaminants such as pathogenic microorganisms, natural toxins, undeclared allergens, foreign material, and chemicals. If food handling, production, transport, and storage are not carried out under controlled hygienic conditions, it can lead to food contamination and thus wasted resources, which further reduces food availability.

The food industry has put safety high on the agenda over recent decades. However, the global effect of foodborne illness is still substantial. One in 10 people worldwide become sick from foodborne illness every year and 420,000 die annually as a result, according to the World Health Organization. The burden falls heavily on poor and young populations: In Africa, a third of liver cancer cases are caused by acute aflatoxin exposure from contaminated crops.


Climate change also increases the risk of the food safety hazards. Increased humidity, higher temperatures, and extreme weather patterns affect farming practices and promote the growth and toxicity of some microorganisms. One example is the increase in mycotoxin-producing molds, which are already 
affecting 60 to 80 percent of the world’s harvested agricultural commodities.

The consumption of heavily mycotoxin contaminated crops leads to many health issues, including stunted growth, immunosuppression, liver cancer, and death. In animals, it leads to lower feed intake and productivity, reproduction issues, and organ failure. This is a major challenge in low-income countries, where contaminated food is often the only nourishment to which people have access.

Technological solutions

For all these reasons it is more important than ever to produce food that is fit for consumption. Food safety is part of Bühler’s sustainability agenda, which focuses on security, minimizing loss and waste, and developing solutions for the production of affordable and nutritious foods. Technology is crucial in reducing contamination levels and transforming raw materials into safe food.

“Bühler plays an important role in helping to ensure food safety through its technology. More than 2 billion people every day enjoy food produced with Bühler technology. The reach of our food safety solutions is therefore enormous,” says Dr. Edyta Margas, Global Head of Food Safety at Bühler.

A systematic approach is required across the whole value chain and Bühler offers numerous measures at each stage. 

One of the main focus areas of Bühler’s food safety solutions is mycotoxin, a major threat to humans and animals. To control mycotoxin in plant-based materials, Bühler offers raw material storage solutions and a range of grain cleaning and sorting technologies, specifically tailored and tested for effective and efficient mycotoxin removal. LumoVision™, for example, is a breakthrough in sorting technology to identify and remove aflatoxin-contaminated crops.

Cleaning methods, such as aspiration, sifting, density separation, and optical sorting technologies, are also used to remove foreign materials, such as glass, plastic, and stones. Reliable kill steps are required to control microorganisms for safe, ready-to-eat products. By combining engineering, process technology, automation, and microbiology expertise, Bühler has transformed traditional heat processes such as extrusion, roasting, and steam treatments into trusted kill steps.

Hygienic design and digitalization

However, implementation of a kill step alone cannot solve the microbiological contamination problem; it must be ensured that the processing that follows directly after such a step is also more hygienic. This means providing for appropriate factory zoning, separation of raw material areas and post-kill step areas, and hygienic design of buildings and equipment.

Hygienic design of equipment and processing facilities is particularly important in avoiding cross-contamination and also ensures that machines can be cleaned effectively, easily, and quickly. “Hygienic design also has an economic and sustainability benefit, which we are able to calculate using a tool we have developed in-house. Hygienically designed machines have higher productivity, cleaning breaks are shorter, fewer resources are required to clean and operate the equipment, and less food residue is wasted,” says Dr. Margas. Often the life cycle of the machine is extended, and the consumption of water, energy, and chemicals minimized.

An example of outstanding hygienic design is the new Franz Haas WSTBF hollow wafer film-spreading machine, where the design ensures good accessibility and change over procedures for efficient and 
fast cleaning. “We also offer a number of digital 
solutions to enable food safety management for our customers, such as the plant automation system, Mercury MES (Manufacturing Execution System), preventative maintenance tools like ProPlant, and sophisticated tools to help with risk assessment and troubleshooting incidents such as Bühler Insights Replay,” explains Dr. Margas.


Bühler offers a range of grain cleaning and sorting technologies specifically designed for mycotoxin removal, such as the Sortex A.
Our work harnesses science and technology to enable hygienic, efficient, and sustainable processing, and to build trust and transparency into the food supply chain.

Dr. Edyta Margas, Global Head of Food Safety at Bühler

Four essential pillars

Bühler’s food safety approach is based on four pillars which are central to the delivery of value-added food safety solutions: establishing a food safety culture, ensuring compliance and hygienic design, developing food safety solutions, and building credibility and communication. Everyone working for or within the food divisions of Bühler has a moral obligation and a collective responsibility to contribute to the safety of food produced with Bühler technology.

Integrated process solutions along the entire industrial food production chain reduce the risk of contaminants, from post-harvest raw material handling, processing, kill step, and ready-to-eat food processing, to packaging and handling.

Technology and data-driven services enable faster and more precise removal of contaminants, provide evidence of the effectiveness of food safety solutions, enable incidents troubleshooting as well as prediction and prevention, and also ensure good traceability.

“Our work harnesses science and technology to enable hygienic, efficient, and sustainable processing, and to build trust and transparency into the 
food supply chain,” says Dr. Margas. Bühler is committed to pushing the current limits of equipment design, processing, and service solutions, and to supporting customers in their efforts to raise their food safety standards.

Dr. Edyta Margas joined Bühler in 2013 and has been Global Head of Food Safety since 2019, responsible for driving the Group’s global food safety strategy and building its food safety culture. She has a doctorate in food microbiology and extensive experience in food safety management and hygienic design. Dr. Margas represents Bühler at the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group and in World Health Organization groups and industry associations, where she provides expert advice on best practice guidelines. She also supports Bühler’s customers to improve their food safety measures.

Collaboration is key

No single company can ensure food safety alone. Collaboration between all players of the value chain is essential, from crop growers to retailers and consumers organizations, as well as other organizations supplying solutions, regulations, and knowledge to the food industry. Many of these players need training to raise awareness and equip them with the skills that are required. Since 2010, Bühler has trained nearly 7,000 employees in this topic and continues educating employees and customers in this field.

“Everyone who has any direct or indirect touch-points with food from field to plate has a role in food safety, including consumers themselves and the small to medium enterprises that provide food for a large proportion of the world’s population,” says Dr. Margas. “When all these factors work together, the benefits are many. First and foremost, people suffer less illness and have better nutrient intake. There is also less wasted product, increased productivity, and greater availability of food. A safe food system is also a more sustainable food system.”


Content Block

How can we help?

Gupfenstrasse 5