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Avoiding Compressed Air Contamination in Food Production Facilities

Compressed air benefits various applications in the food processing industry. In these applications, compressed air is either direct or indirect contact with the food product being produced.  The presence of contaminants in the compressed air can render unhealthy effects to the food products such as reduced shelf life, discoloration, and changes in taste.

Ambient air is an important element in the production of compressed air. The air compressor pulls this in and compresses it, generating high temperatures and water vapor. Due to the ambient air’s water vapor, microorganisms, particulate matter, oil vapor and droplets content, water can be produced once introduced to high temperatures. With the presence of water vapor, rusting and corrosion will occur in the compressor’s piping, flaking its surface off, contaminating the food product. Bacteria mold, and spores growth will most likely occur due to a favorable environment brought about by the combination of water condensate and warm compressed air.

Food processing plants employ the standards of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP), the ISO 8573.1 risk analysis regulations and other governmental policies to ensure that food production is stabilized, following the needed quality of food safety and sanitation. The use of air filtration systems is a must to protect the food being processed as well as the processing equipment from rust, water, oil and chipped pipe scales.

Standards pertaining to the minimum acceptable level of cleanliness do not exist for compressed air used in the food industry. This is the reason why these industries are forced to create their own set of rules and standards for compressed air quality.

According to the most commonly used standard, the ISO8573.1-2010 section 6 of The Code of Practice, compressed air in the food industry is separated into three categories including: direct contact with food, indirect contact with food or noncontact (high risk) and the noncontact (no risk).

The installation of high performance compressed air dryers and filtration systems can be useful in abiding to the standards presented for compressed air quality. Large dryers with a -40 °F dewpoint specification and a high performance first stage coalescing filter (with at least 99.99% at 0.01 microns rating) are common essentials of compressed air systems in order to maintain good quality and contamination-free air.

With the goal of avoiding food contamination as well, the Industrial Lubricant Store (ILS) offers an extensive selection of quality food-grade lubricants blended specifically to cater the needs of various food processing applications. Browse through our vast product line at www.theindustriallubricantstore.com/food-grade-lubricants today.

About the Author
Randy Renick
Randy Renick has a Bachelor's degree from LSU. He is an STLE Certified Lubrication Specialist and has a 29 year work history in Industrial Lubrication. He is currently a Lubricant Consultant at The Industrial Lubricant Store.

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