Posted 5 April 2018



The importance of optimising hygiene in South Africa’s food and beverage manufacturing facilities has been underlined following what has become the world’s largest outbreak of listeria.  Food and beverage manufacturers are understandably looking to ensure the hygienic performance of their factories is optimised and that the risks of such an outbreak occurring again are reduced. Yet whether you’re an international brewer or a manufacturer of ready-meals for a major supermarket, you may be overlooking one of the most important areas when it comes to your factory’s hygienic performance: drainage.   Here with talk to Marco Cassol, Managing Director of ACO Building Drainage in South Africa to learn more about the critical role drainage has to play.


1.    Why does drainage have such a big impact on hygiene?


Although drainage is often overlooked by specifiers and factory operators, many independent studies show that a significant amount of bacteria can be present in drainage. In fact, 70 per cent of positive listeria screens are found in drainage so it’s critical that your drainage system is designed in a way that minimizes the risk of bacteria being harbored within it.   Bacteria require water to grow so the residual amounts of water contained within drainage or on a factory floor present a potential food contamination risk.   Bacteria can also travel through a drainage system and, as a result, contaminate different areas of a food processing facility.  Therefor the specification of hygienically designed drainage should be a priority for any food and beverage manufacturer, particularly with regard to the prevention of listeria outbreaks. 


2.    Why is listeria so hard to fight?


Research conducted by the University of Southern Denmark’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2015 identified the three factors that make listeria so hard to fight:  Its ability to react instantly to its surroundings and environment, and deal with threats; its ability to hide from the body’s immune system by producing a special protein that makes it very hard to detect, and its ability to defend its own cells from attack by threats including antibiotics.   The University’s research underlines why it’s so important to take every possible step to prevent an outbreak of listeria and why it’s so important to ensure your drainage is hygienically engineered to the highest possible standards.


3.    How should food and beverage manufacturers specify drainage?


Drainage should be hygienically designed in accordance with best practice design principles and the latest research regarding product performance and specification.  Importantly, food and beverage manufacturers should take an evidence-led approach to drainage specification.  Ask yourself, how many claims made by potential suppliers are based on proven facts?


At ACO a commitment to evidence-led product development is a core part of our overall business strategy and the ‘Hygiene First’ approach we apply to hygiene-sensitive applications.  It is important to us that our product designs and the advice we give to our clients is based on the findings of robust academic research that not only enables us to improve the drainage systems we provide but also gives our clients the additional knowledge they need to optimise food safety and operational costs.


For example, ACO’s range of hygienically designed drainage products embody the best practice design principles of EHEDG.  EHEDG (The European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group) is a global not-for-profit organization whose remit is to improve hygienic engineering and design standards in all aspects of food manufacture.  It comprises a group of equipment manufacturers, research institutes, academic bodies and food manufacturers which work collaboratively to improve hygienic engineering and design standards, and is a leading source of independent guidance on a range of topics. 


In the last year alone, ACO has also commissioned two significant R&D projects to help our customers improve the hygienic performance of their drainage.   The first study, commissioned with Fraunhofer IVV Dresden – part of the renowned Fraunhofer Institute, evaluated the impact of hygienic design on drainage performance and found that ACO’s hygienically design channel could be fully cleaned in less than 10 minutes whereas a standard drainage channel could not be cleaned even after more than three hours of cleaning.   The second study, undertaken with flooring experts, SIKA, identified the best floor-drainage connections for hygiene-critical environments and provides clear evidence-led guidance regarding floor-drainage specification.


As a company, ACO is committed to taking an evidence led approach to product development, drainage system design and specification, and we would strongly advise food and beverage manufacturers to do the same.


4.    What are the key design features drainage specifiers should look for?


When it comes to drainage design, there are a number of key product design features that EHEDG and our own research have identified as critical to hygiene. 


For example, it’s important to ensure channels have a completely drainable dry sump with a one degree slope to prevent the build-up of stagnant water, smells, microbial growth and potential chemical hazards; a deep drawn body with smooth contours which eliminates crevices that can harbor bacteria; a completely smooth stainless steel surface; continuous welding of joints, and radiused corners with a minimum radius of 3mm. 


For optimum hygienic performance, ACO’s slip-resistant grates have no mesh but are fully cast or welded, and every joint is curved to make removal and cleaning an easy and safe process without the need for inappropriate power washing.  


ACO’s foul air trap (FAT) also incorporates a number of design features to further reduce bacteria harbourage potential - all edges of the new FAT are rounded, connections have been minimised and there are no overlapping joints.


Our team can provide more detailed guidance on the key design features to look for in different drainage products and we would also advise you to review EHEDG Document 44.

5.    What else is important?


Working with a drainage supplier which has a track record in the design and manufacture of hygienically engineered drainage systems for the food and beverage sector is invaluable.  Drainage companies which specialize in the development of hygienically engineered solutions for the food and beverage sector should have world-class manufacturing facilities which will produce consistent high quality drainage products. 


Importantly, they should also have in-house technical design teams who can provide the required level of specification advice and guidance.   Working with experts such as these is arguably one of the simplest ways to ensure that every aspect of your drainage system has been considered and the drainage system you end up with can meet current and future needs when its comes to hygiene, employee health and safety, and operational costs.


For more information about ACO’s range of hygienically designed products or to talk with a member of the ACO team about optimising the performance of your drainage, call 011 8243525





Listeria´s secret weapons

ACO hygienic drainage to reduce listeria

Listeria´s secret weapons: Awareness, adaptability & camouflage

At ACO, we not only invest in research into the ‘cleanability’ of drainage products but we also keep a close eye on the very latest research being conducted by academic organisations throughout the world. Here, we highlight the key findings of a report which explains why listeria is so hard to fight.

Last summer in Denmark alone, no less than 28 people were infected with listeria and 13 of those died. The outbreak underlines how harmful and potentially deadly this bacterium can be and we were interested to learn about new research undertaken to establish why listeria is so resilient.

Conducted by Associate Professor Birgitte Kallipolitis PHD and her colleagues from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark, the research tested how listeria reacts when exposed to a number of substances that can normally fight pathogenic bacteria.

This is what the Associate Professor and her team discovered...

1.  Listeria is constantly aware of its surroundings and it reacts quickly
In fact, listeria reacts instantly to changes in its surroundings and environment, and it has a number of strategies for dealing with threats.

2.  It’s an expert at “not attracting unwanted attention from the body’s immune system”
Listeria has to produce special proteins to successfully infect the cells in our body but it has become an expert at doing this without producing so many of these protein cells that our immune system can detect their presence. Researchers found that listeria produces ‘RNA molecules’ which enable it to adjust the amount of each protein it produces so it can infect someone and sneak past their immune system!

3.   Listeria actively protects its own cell walls from infection
The RNA molecules produced by listeria protect its own cells from attack by detecting any threats including the presence of antibiotics. In fact, RNA molecule production is only triggered when listeria is exposed to a threat. This response mechanism enables listeria to adapt so effectively and, if it senses an attack, to quickly repair any cell damage. And this is a key factor determining its resilience.

This research underlines why it’s so important to take every possible step to prevent an outbreak of listeria and why it’s so important to ensure drainage – a key area in which bacteria can grow - is hygienically engineered to the highest possible standards.

Death toll in South Africa listeria outbreak jumps to 61

Death toll in South Africa listeria outbreak jumps to 61

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The death toll from an outbreak of listeria in South Africa has jumped beyond 60 in the past month, health authorities said on Monday, adding they had closed a poultry abattoir where the bug that causes the disease had been detected.
Since monitoring of the outbreak began last January, 720 laboratory-confirmed cases of food poisoning due to the disease, also known as listeriosis, have been reported, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said. That was up from 557 in December, since when recorded deaths had risen to 61 from 36.…/death-toll-in-south-africa-lister…

As one of the world’s leading commercial drainage specialists, ACO Group understands the critical role
that drainage plays in a successful commercial food preparation business. We appreciate that food safety, hygiene and cost control are all vital factors yet we also understand that for many, drainage is out of sight and therefore out of mind.
Food safety can be severely affected due to poor drainage and grease separation systems. ACO solutions are designed to effectively and safely drain away and handle process water. We design our products specifically to reduce the risk of food contamination.

Find out more about HygieneFirst at or ACO Systems SA are available to assist you with any further information you may require. We can be contacted on 011 8243525.

ACO is pleased to announce the acquisition of ROFO ENGINEERING

(Posted: 8 December 2016) 

ACO is pleased to announce the acquisition of ROFO ENGINEERING

The ACO Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of Rofo Engineering, a leading manufacturer and supplier of stainless steel drainage systems and grease traps in South Africa. The ACO Group is the world market leader in drainage technology. With its integrated approach, ACO stands for professional drainage, efficient cleaning, and the controlled discharge or reuse of water. Products include drainage channels and floor drains, oil and grease separators, manhole covers, roof drainage systems and stainless steel pipes. The family-owned company headquartered in Rendsburg/Büdelsdorf, Germany, was founded in 1946. The major innovation strength of the ACO Group is built on intense research and development, and its technical expertise in processing polymer concrete, plastic, cast iron, stainless steel and reinforced concrete. ACO has a presence in over 40 countries, with a total of 30 production sites on all continents, with a global workforce of 4,200, the company generated sales of Euro 705 million in 2015. Rofo Engineering has a history of more than 30 years of successful presence in the Southern African market. Well established and specialized in designing and manufacturing in stainless steel and grease traps, Rofo offers an intimate knowledge, experience and understanding of stainless steel fabrication. Rofo Engineering will continue to offer designing, manufacturing and distribution of high quality products to its customers. The former owner of Rofo Engineering cc, Mr. Jovo Bardak, will continue to work as Operations Director of Rofo Engineering (Pty) Ltd. ACO Systems and Rofo Engineering will gladly assist you with any technical or commercial query, more information about our products are on our websites and

ACO sponsors FCSI EAME Conference in Warsaw

(Posted September 2013)

As one of the world’s leading floor drainage specialists, health, safety and hygienic design are key interests of ACO. ACO is a member of EHEDG, the Europena Hygienic & Design Group, for the past two years. This professional institution aims to promote hygiene during the processing and packaging of food products. In addition ACO sponsors two important events of the industry.

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ACO presents the Musto Skiff European Championship 2013

(Posted November 2013)

ACO Group first partnered with the class - developed by Joachim Harpprecht in Kiel - for their 2012 world championship, held in the Olympic harbour of Weymouth and attended by over 100 boats. Iver Ahlmann, managing partner of the ACO Group, is himself an enthusiastic Musto Skiff sailor. As the current runner-up European champion, he'll be defending his title on Lake Attersee.

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ACO shortlisted as a finalist for 2013 Sustainability Leaders Awards

(Posted November2013)

ACO is delighted to announce that ACO StormBrixx has been shortlisted for a Sustainability Leaders Award in the Sustainability Innovation: Systems & Software category.

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