The development of conveyor lubricants and lubrication systems, from the early days of spraying with tap water and applying bars of soap to the complex products and automatic dosage systems of the 1990s, is briefly described. Modern conveyor lubricants are compatible with water too hard for use with the older soap based products, produce little or no foam and have relatively little effect on effluent BOD/COD. The application of disinfectants to conveyors, either separately or as an ingredient in the lubricant, is increasingly common, as "biofilms" of bacteria, wild yeasts and mould fungi embedded in a polysaccharide slime of their own secretion can form on, in or under the conveyors, especially where there is spillage or leakage. As the wide range of species which may be present in these biofilms includes pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, they can constitute a significant source of product contamination as well as causing equipment problems such as corrosion, pipe/nozzle clogging, etc. In extreme cases they may physically endanger employees by forming slippery patches on floors. The suggestion that running conveyors "dry", i.e. without lubrication, would eliminate these biofilms is discussed, but it is pointed out that a beverage packaging installation can never be truly dry (and that in any case the absence of lubrication brings its own problems), so that frequent physical cleaning (with scrubbers or the equivalent) and disinfection must be considered essential.
Keywords : cleaning contamination conveyor disinfection hygiene lubricant microorganism safety