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Food Safety Rule Changes – Compressed Air Will Play a Role

On 4 January 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed major new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules that many consider the most significant food safety advances since the 1940s. While one rule proposal deals largely with sanitation management and protocols on produce farms, another rule focuses on production and distribution sources; and it is this latter rule that the compressed air field (generators, systems, and testing) will play a major role in.

Compressed air is used throughout the food and beverage industry for manufacture, conveyance of products, packaging, storage, refrigeration, etc. But while the FDA may increase scrutiny and pass along ever greater responsibility to food and beverage companies for protecting the safety of food supply throughout a product’s life cycle, hard and fast rules on safety are difficult to establish. Liquids and powders, for example, must be handled quite differently. The purity of air necessary for one point in a manufacturing operation may vary considerably from another. One product may be fine at -40°F; another might be damaged and desiccated by that temperature.

Keeping food products safe and manufacturing and distribution facilities running efficiently (which is both environmentally friendly and keeps product and energy costs down) means that plant engineers need  some flexibility in how they manage their compressed air as part of their food safety protocols.

Manufacturers may utilize a number of compressed air testing standards and guidelines, such as ISO 8573, 21 CFR part 120 & 123, and the Safe Quality Food Program (SQF).  The SQF Code, in fact, is increasingly used by food and beverage industry companies to ensure compliance and safety. The SQF Code states that compressed air used in the production process shall be clean and present no risk to food safety and compressed air used in the production process shall be regularly monitored for purity.

This is precisely where compressed air testing comes into play.

TRI Air Testing is proud to be an independent, third-party compressed air testing resource for the global food and beverage industry. Our compressed air testing kits take samples at the Point of Use (POU) and are used at manufacturing and packaging sites of small companies and major global corporations.

As the new food safety rules are refined in conversation between the FDA, industry, and consumers, compressed air testing will play a major role in making sure that the Food Safety Modernization Act achieves its goals.

Need assistance in refining your compressed air usage in food and beverage to ensure safe production and energy efficiency? Need a compressed air testing kit for SQF Air Purity? Our experts provide guidance to ensure that the standards and guidelines you use are correct and relevant to the needs of your individual site operation. 

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