There are many factors that impact the success of a processing plant’s product safety strategy. These are commonly thought to be sparkling-clean metal surfaces, clean-in-place systems and efficient and sustainable chemistry. However, one aspect of a safe and hygienic facility tends to go overlooked, and it’s the one I have spent a good portion of my tenure at Diversey working on; air quality.
Food and beverage manufacturing plants in North America, and around the World, have legal requirements for air quality to which they must adhere to avoid legal ramifications as well as food safety hazards. It’s important to understand the following regulations:
U.S. – Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
Section 103 of the law calls for plants to “evaluate the hazards that could affect food manufactured, processed, packed or held by such facility, identify and implement preventive controls to significantly minimize or prevent the occurrence of such hazards.” These hazards could include contaminated air, so it is incumbent on each operation to institute a plan to prevent unsafe air qualities from existing.
Canada – Safe Food for Canadians Regulations
Canadian law mandates a written preventative control plan to avoid contamination. This plan must include “a description of the biological, chemical and physical hazards” in a plant, as well as “the control measures for preventing or eliminating those hazards or reducing them to an acceptable level” and “evidence that the control measures are effective.”
Global Standards – BRC and SQF.
These global standards both discuss air quality as a key component of product safety. The BRC rules require that “air and other gases used as an ingredient or that are in direct contact with products shall be monitored to ensure this does not represent a contamination risk.” It also stipulates that “compressed air that is in direct contact with the product shall be filtered at point of use.” SQF rules similarly state “compressed air or other gasses (e.g. nitrogen, carbon dioxide) that contacts food or food contact surfaces shall be clean and prevent no risk to food safety.”
Unlike the cleanliness of a surface, plant managers cannot evaluate air quality by a visual inspection. After all, air is invisible, and it is easy to overlook the invisible aspects of an operation. Neglecting air quality as a potential source of contamination can result in decreased shelf life and even product recalls but many customers do not have the equipment or other resources to conduct thorough microbiological air monitoring. Diversey's new AirQualityCheck is a suite of microbiological air assessments that provide a full evaluation of a plant’s air quality with the goal of increasing overall product quality and safety. These services include:
Environmental Air Assessment
Test and monitor your plant’s environmental air quality, allowing results to be benchmarked and improved upon to ensure product safety.
Air Flow Assessment
Understand and control allergen cross-contamination risks in your facility by identifying the airflow between critical areas where allergens are stored and handled.
CompAir Micro Check
Industry-leading technology and expertise that is used to analyse and verify the microbiological air quality of the compressed air used in your facility.
By implementing an AirQualityCheck in your facility, your operation will benefit from: