Why high efficiency air filtration is important for food safety

The food and beverage industry is affected by unique air quality challenges that can risk the health and safety of workers, production equipment along with a potential for contamination. Let’s look at how high-efficiency air filters can provide an effective and affordable solution. 
 
Across the world, the daily challenges facing the food & beverage industry have been intensifying for some time. From product safety recalls to fluctuations in global food prices, food manufacturers and packaging plants seemingly have enough on their plate when it comes to product safety. 
 
Like any other commercial operation, the presence of airborne pathogens, mould spores, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can threaten food safety and quality. Commercial operators like food producers, dairy processors, and beverage manufacturers must pay very close attention to how effective their air filters are and how effective they are at protecting the people, process, and the environment the filters serve. For most, upgrading to high-efficiency air filters is an effective way to reduce the threats from contaminants while improving facility airflow and lowering maintenance costs. 

The first step is to identify your food processing business risk area pertaining to air quality challenges. For low care or low risk areas, where food is unlikely to contain pathogenic microorganisms and normally do not support their growth due to food characteristics such as texture, size, appearance, color, or nature, air quality recommendations are standard. Dry foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, etc. mostly contain a low risk of contamination. Hence, the minimum filtration required varies. In some cases customers install ePM 1 filters or ISO coarse with an option to upgrade to ProSafe, to mitigate the risk and keep their equipment protected.
 
On the other hand, food that requires cooking, production, and handling in the manufacturing facility requires ultra-high hygiene due to the potential contamination hazards. This includes meat production facilities, ready to eat products, tasting areas, ice cream production, etc. They require a minimum 3 stage filtration with ePM1 60% and a positive pressure environment must be maintained along with sufficient airflow. The minimum level of air filtration at the final stage should be equivalent to H13 or more in accordance with EN1822:2019.
 
The below diagrams will explain how food is segmented based on its characteristics and how air quality or air care is determined.

The Importance of Specially-Designed Filter for the Food & Beverage Industry

No matter what kind of food is being produced, clean air is a vital ingredient in the final product. The presence of contaminants in a food or beverage bottling production can threaten the reputation of a brand name that has taken years to establish. This is why it is important to ensure compliance with current standards and to ensure regular validation of equipment/processes along with the air filters.
 
If the HVAC system in your facility is poorly maintained or the filtration system is not providing sufficiently suitable air quality then the whole production process could be compromised. At the very least poor air quality could create unwanted results in the food that is produced like high absenteeism & early product spoilage. At the worst, it could spell disaster in the form of contaminated product, poorly packaged food items, which could damage consumer confidence irrecoverably. Air filters act as a barrier between food and microbiological cross-contamination from mould, bacteria, viruses, VOCs, fine dusts from dry ingredients and odours. Molecular air filtration can improve the equipment resistance to corrosion at the food and beverage production facility while also ensuring problematic odours are captured at the source and do not escape into the surrounding atmosphere. 
5 key benefits of high-efficiency air filtration inthe food & beverage industry:

1. Help comply with food safety standards

2. Gain operational efficiency and cut production downtime/product loss

3. Protect employees health

4. Contribute to enhanced customer food experience

5. Maximize production excellence and extend product shelf life
 

Improving Commercial HVAC Filter for Air Flow

Aside from the removal of potentially harmful airborne contaminants, a commercial air filter’s ‘second’ task is to maintain a consistent airflow throughout the facility. Camfil’s high efficiency filters are specifically designed to perform with a high capture efficiency while maintaining the proper airflow due to the filter’s low resistance. The final task of an air filter is to have the capacity to hold large volumes of particles within the media of the filter while maintaining a low resistance. This is known as a filter’s dust holding capacity. Often food production businesses face limitations in upgrading their air filtration due to the design of the HVAC units, the size of the production facility, know-how of the working of air handling units, and even the internal process that affects the particulate level.  

HVAC system in the existing facility may not be designed to achieve increased levels of air changes as well as improved filter efficiency. When these improvements are not available for upgrading the system, the process becomes more challenging due to the cost and expenses. This challenge can be easily met by Camfil's Air Purifiers/Air Cleaners. Camfil recommends using a mobile HEPA air cleaner or air purifier to supplement the existing HVAC system to achieve the required air changes to support the food production facility.

Choose Camfil

Camfil is working or in agreement with some of the biggest food and beverage manufacturing companies in the world. Whether it is pandemic prevention measures, food safety, maintaining high standards, temperature control areas, or more, Camfil stands by its products and advanced technology that is protecting people, processes, and the environment since 1963. To get a consultation or an analysis about your business air quality requirement, please contact a Camfil Office in your area.