Compressed air contamination is a real problem for the food industry !

CATR knows that in today’s modern production facilities, the use of compressed air is often pivotal to manufacturing processes. Irrespective of whether the compressed air comes into direct contact with the product or is used to automate a process, provide motive power, package products, or even to generate other gases on-site, a clean, dry, reliable compressed air supply is essential to maintain efficient and cost effective production.

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A tour of any modern food manufacturing facility will uncover the extensive use of compressed air; however production managers and quality managers are often unaware of the potential hazards associated with this powerful utility. Untreated compressed air contains many potentially harmful or dangerous contaminants which must be removed or reduced to acceptable levels in order to protect the consumer and provide a safe and cost effective production facility. Contaminants that may be a potential hazard in food for human consumption need to be controlled, as a lack of control could potentially result in a prosecution.

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Worldwide Standards for Food Grade Compressed Air

Currently, unlike compressed air that is used for breathing or medical purposes, no standards or laws exist that define a minimum acceptable level of cleanliness (quality) when the compressed air is used for food manufacture. In order to protect consumers against ill health (or worse), contamination of production equipment, ingredients, packaging materials and of course finished product must be prevented. Most countries worldwide have strict standards and laws governing hygiene which must be adhered to during the production, processing, handling, packaging and transportation of food products. Almost all food hygiene legislation requires food business operators to put into place, written food safety management procedures based upon the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point).

Food Hygiene and HACCP

If carried out correctly, the Hazard Analysis (Risk Analysis) would identify the risks associated with compressed air, however in most manufacturing facilities, compressed air is incorrectly seen as a utility and / or thought of as being as clean as the ambient air in the facility and is therefore completely omitted from the Hazard Analysis. In reality, every point in a food / beverage manufacturing plant where compressed air is used should be classified as a CCP (Critical Control Point), due to the contamination present in the compressed air system.

Once classified as a CCP, measures must be taken to remove or reduce the compressed air contaminants to acceptable levels.

Regardless of whether oil lubricated or oil-free compressors are installed, the purification equipment required to achieve the purity levels stated in the Food Grade Compressed Air Code of Practice is identical. CATR can access your site requirements and identify your need for Non-Contact: Low Risk, Non-Contact: High Risk or Direct Contact systems in accordance with ISO8573 and ISO12500.

If you would like your current compressed air system evaluated to see if it meets ISO8573 classification for food grade quality compressed air, call CATR on (07)3275-1822.

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