Cinnaminson, NJ, August 29th, 2014
Many modern food manufacturing facilities today rely on compressed air during the manufacturing process. This compressed air can come in direct or indirect contact with food products, so it is important that it is not creating a contamination risk due to the presence of microorganisms.
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) aims to improve food safety management systems and many food manufacturers are adopting GFSI endorsed food quality initiatives. One of these is the SQF Code, which released its seventh edition in 2012. In Module 11: Food Safety Fundamentals – Good Manufacturing Practices for Processing of Food Products, compressed air quality is specifically addressed. It states, “184.108.40.206 Compressed air used in the manufacturing process shall be clean and present no risk to food safety; 220.127.116.11 Compressed air used in the manufacturing process shall be regularly monitored for purity.”
There are many hybrid sampling methods such as settling plates, sponge collection, dry petrifilm collection and even capturing air in a sterile bag, however, these methods of collection will not guarantee statically valid or measureable outcomes. Subsequently, this can lead to low-bias or even false negative results. One company that is helping food manufacturers monitor their compressed air through standardized ISO 8573 testing methodology is EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL provides microbiological testing of compressed air for the identification and enumeration of culturable fungi (Test Code: M005) and the Gram stain and enumeration of culturable bacteria (Test Code: M009). If bacteria levels exceed customer acceptance limits for culturable bacteria, then the identification and enumeration of culturable bacteria (Test Code: M010) may be performed.
“SQF 11.5.7 requires compressed air to be clean and regularly monitored for purity,” said Joy Dell’Aringa, M.S., RM (NRM), CFSP, National Food Director at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Little guidance is provided for the microbiological component of this monitoring requirement. The result is inconsistent applications across the industry spectrum. EMSL offers an ISO standardized approach that will satisfy auditors, is easy to sample, and provides measurable and reproducible results.”
EMSL recommends using a calibrated pump and plate impaction system so the resulting colony forming units (CFUs) can be reported as CFU per cubic meter of air basis. EMSL offers the SAS Pinocchio Super II Compressed Gas Air Sampler (Product ID: 87R5034) for purchase or rental. In addition, EMSL provides the media plates for free.
To learn more about compressed air testing services in food manufacturing facilities, please visit www.FoodTestingLab.com or www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com. Click here to find a EMSL food testing laboratory near you.