Food and beverage grade air: Best practice guidelines
02 July 2013
New best practice guidance for food and beverage processors on the safe and efficient use of compressed air has been unveiled by the BCAS (British Compressed Air Society).
Prepared in conjunction with BRC Global Standards, the guide is designed to help processors make informed decisions relating to compressor systems operating at a pressure greater than 0.5 bar. It includes information on what type of compressed air equipment could be used, how it should be installed, maintained and audited and, perhaps most importantly, the levels of air purity required to reduce the risk of contamination.
The new guidelines supersede BCAS’s Food Grade Code of Practice, which was issued in 2007. One of the major changes to the document is the increased focus on compressed air as part of a pre-requisite programme (PRP), rather than within the hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) activity. A PRP addresses basic operational conditions, such as good hygiene practices, and is considered essential in establishing a sound foundation prior to the application of HACCP or other food safety management systems.
Welcoming the new guidelines, David Brackston, technical director - Food schemes at BRC Global Standards said: "The BRC Global Standards are pleased to have been asked to be involved in the development of the new guidelines.
"This provides a valuable resource for engineers and technical managers when assessing the risks associated with compressed air systems in the food industry and provides essential guidance to help manage these risks.”
As a utility, compressed air is widely used in the food and beverage industry for a diverse range of operations, from powering pneumatics, process and automation equipment, to moving, mixing and blending ingredients.
However, its use, especially in areas where it can come into direct or indirect contact with production equipment, ingredients, finished products or packaging, should be carefully controlled, to prevent the risk of contamination.
Commenting on the launch, Greg Bordiak, Technical Officer at BCAS said: "Compressed air remains an essential part of many aspects of food and beverage production. We began the process of developing the best practice guide back in 2011 and have already received great interest from the UK and abroad.
"Getting food from the ‘farm to the table’ involves many processes, with ever-increasing demands placed on improving safety and hygiene in the food chain. The aim of this best practice guide is to help food and beverage processors use compressed air as safely and efficiently as possible, protecting both them and the consumer.”