3-A SSI/EHEDG Endorse New GFSI Hygienic Design Benchmarking Requirements

by the 3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc. (3-A SSI) and the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG)

November 2020

Hygienic Design Incorporated in Food Safety Management Program Certification

Hygienic design of food processing buildings and equipment has a major effect on global food safety, across many sectors from farm-to-fork. Poor hygienic design has led to many major food safety challenges from cross-contamination of food products by biological, chemical and physical hazards. Well thought-out hygienic design enables food safety and product quality and contributes to the effectiveness of food safety management programs.

In 2018 the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) organization established a team of industry hygiene thought leaders to develop and deliver a high-level set of hygienic design benchmarking requirements with the objective of enhancing food safety from farm-to-fork. These Hygienic Design of Food Buildings and Processing Equipment requirements were published as scope JI (for building constructors and equipment manufacturers) and JII (for building and equipment users) in 2020.

JI and JII will form the basis for Certification Program Owners (CPO’s) to develop standards for GFSI recognized certification of the hygienic design, fabrication, installation, maintenance and cleanability of facilities and equipment. Compliance with these standards will benefit supply chain stakeholders and consumers with consistent food safe, quality products across the global food supply chain.

3-A SSI and EHEDG can support with combined expertise

3-A SSI and EHEDG have a long history of developing criteria for the hygienic design of equipment and facilities in the form of standards and guidelines which are essential for equipment manufacturers, building constructors and food manufacturers to meet food safety and quality objectives and for government agencies and regulatory authorities to achieve public health objectives.

Together, 3-A SSI and EHEDG endorse this GFSI initiative and are prepared to utilize their global network of subject matter experts (from consumer products companies, research organizations, regulatory agencies, and building and equipment designers) to deliver support to stakeholders in the farm-to-fork chain to interpret and apply the requirements of JI and JII.

Both organizations stand ready to:

  • Provide support to Certification Program Owners and their Certification Bodies in development of actionable and auditable standards based on the high level GFSI JI and JII benchmarking requirements.
  • Provide a framework to assess the food safety risks of any hazards that might be associated with new or existing buildings/equipment
  • Provide hygienic design standards and guidelines that can be used to provide mitigation of such risks by appropriate hygienic design
  • Provide guidance in the safe design, construction, and commissioning of equipment and buildings, so that no additional hazards arise that could affect food safety
  • Provide training in the principles of hygienic design and hygienic design risk assessment  


The first standards known as ‘3A’ were developed in the 1920s and 3-A SSI today consists of the associations representing U.S. regulatory sanitarians, processors and equipment fabricators. 3-A SSI maintains a large inventory of standards accepted by both USDA and FDA for virtually all types of major food processing equipment and accepted practices for processing systems. 3-A SSI also oversees a voluntary program for use of the 3-A Symbol on conforming equipment.

Founded in 1989, EHEDG encompasses members of different stakeholder groups in the food supply chain and has regional sections in Europe and other regions in the world. Its main goals are the promotion and improvement of hygienic design and engineering solutions in all aspects of food manufacture. EHEDG has active working groups for developing and publishing guidelines, develops training materials and organizes trainings, and certifies processing components through third party testing facilities.

While EHEDG and 3-A SSI originated at different times, in different parts of the world and with different needs in mind, the organizations today share a common interest in applying the best science and engineering expertise to advance knowledge of hygienic design and professional education. Representatives of each organization regularly participate in the development of various documents with the goal of improving the uniformity and consistency of hygienic design requirements around the world. This collaboration led to the creation of a matrix to harmonize key terminology used in the respective criteria for hygienic design.

For more information and cooperation:

We welcome all those involved and interested in hygienic design, all over the world to join us and help develop, maintain and support the application of hygienic design to advance food safety.

3-A SSI website: 


Timothy R. Rugh, CAE

Executive Director

3-A Sanitary Standards, Inc.

EHEDG website:  

Adwy van den Berg

Operations Director

European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group