We can all agree that consumer protection is one of the major concerns in the food processing industry. Food contamination can adversely affect human health as well as resulting in a loss of consumer confidence and damage to branding and customer loyalty.
In order to avoid these pitfalls, companies operating in the food and beverages industry should introduce custom designed air filters to maintain a sterile environment during the processing of food and beverages. Filtration plays a critical role in providing a safe method for removing impurities and extending the shelf life of many food products.
Why are air filters critical?
Airborne bacteria is a serious concern in food processing. Large number of bacteria, particulates, yeast and mould spores can pass through air handling systems every hour in open plant applications and filters are critical in the removal of microorganisms, Cryptosporidium and particulate matter.
Considerations when it comes to air filtration
Depending on the nature of the HVAC system – roof mounted or closed system – there are different considerations when considering air filtration.
HVAC systems mounted on rooftops require proper filter design, which may include a pre-filter bank for coarse dust contaminates, followed by higher filtration or HEPA filtration. Maintenance of these systems is essential for open plant air processing.
In closed system applications, processing and dispensing of food and/or beverages occurs in a closed work cell. Maintenance of temperature, humidity, and air filtration is an essential requirement for closed system environment. A series of HEPA filters is used for such processes.
Other air filter considerations include:-
- Filters should themselves not be a source of contamination
- Filters should be moisture resistant
- Filters should not have any fibre shredding
- Filters should be robust enough to put up with the stresses of mechanical operation
- Airtight and leak free
All of the above points also illustrate that cheap filters and filtration solutions are rarely effective, from either an operational or financial standpoint.
Of course the degree of filtration depends greatly on the type of product or products being processed, for example, highly micro-sensitive products will require the highest filter standards.
Also air intake units should also be filtered to the degree demanded by the quality of the incoming air and the contamination potential of the product being produced in the factory. These air intake units should be easily accessible for frequent cleaning to prevent interruption of the airflow. The design of any exhaust stacks and their location in relation to the intake air equipment is an important design issue.
Other concerns for food processors
Another concern for food processors is condensate in a plant, especially if it is above or close to where food is handled. Air-handling systems should be designed to minimize such issues, especially in environments where steam is used or during cleanups of cold rooms. Some processors install ventilation systems that are reversible. The process floor operates under positive pressure from HEPA-filtered air during production. During cleanup, the system is reversed to remove steam and warm air to minimize condensate and help dry the area.
Indeed it is incumbent on every food processor to look at its products and processes and evaluate potential risks.
HVDS provide a range of high quality, energy efficient air filtration, ventilation, air handling and air extraction products. Including HVAC air filters, air handling air filters, and air filtration products for air handling, ventilation and extraction.
For more information and advice on the impact air filtration and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.