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Monitoring purity of compressed air (11.5.7.2 SQF Code ed7)


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#1 foodmicrochick

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 11:12 PM

There is a new requirement going into place with the new edition of the SQF Code. 11.5.7.2 states compressed air shall be monitored for purity. Most plants assure filters are at point of use and are changed regularly and any air guns are properly taken care of (not left on ground, etc.). How do you monitor for purity? I see there are many companies that will do this test for you, but is this something you can do yourself? If so, what do you test for? APC? And if so, how often? Any thoughts would be appreciated. :helpplease:


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#2 Snookie

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:21 PM

Great question......and what is pure? What is pass, what is fail?


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#3 stsqf

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:27 PM

http://www.iandmindu...ite-paper-1.pdf

I agree, great question! I found this article/white paper that may help better describe compressed air purity.
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#4 Snookie

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:32 PM

While this a company trying to sell their services, I found this information useful as well



http://www.aircheckl...d-industry.html


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#5 Katja

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:38 PM

I was going to call outside lab service to see if they could test for oils and micro, and how they would suggest i get a sample. But first i need to establish criteria and this is my current struggle...


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#6 esquef

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 01:10 PM

While this a company trying to sell their services, I found this information useful as well



Inreresting, but a bit misleading I think. They state:

"Clean process air in the food industry is integral to Quality Assurance and Quality Control and it should always be considered a Critical Control Point (CCP) if used in your food manufacturing process. Four major governing organizations have specifically identified compressed air as a (CCP) that needs monitoring. They are (ISO) International Standardization for Organization1, (BCAS) the British Compressed Air Society2, the (BRC) British Retail Consortium3, and (SQF) the Safe Quality Food Institute4.

I could possibly see this as Pre-requisite program, but CCP?
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#7 Marshenko

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:58 PM

Inreresting, but a bit misleading I think. They state:

"Clean process air in the food industry is integral to Quality Assurance and Quality Control and it should always be considered a Critical Control Point (CCP) if used in your food manufacturing process. Four major governing organizations have specifically identified compressed air as a (CCP) that needs monitoring. They are (ISO) International Standardization for Organization1, (BCAS) the British Compressed Air Society2, the (BRC) British Retail Consortium3, and (SQF) the Safe Quality Food Institute4.

I could possibly see this as Pre-requisite program, but CCP?



Yeah... the language they use is clearly nothing more than an attempt to drum up some business, it would seem.
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#8 foodmicrochick

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:01 PM

Thanks to you all. The articles I came up with must have been written by the same person (or same school of thought...sell!) since I can't imagine it being a CCP but rather a pre-requisite at best. I am imagining creative use of air samplers. Perhaps our friends in the UK have a better idea since it's been part of BRC for several years.


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#9 monkeyman

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 10:17 AM

Thanks to you all. The articles I came up with must have been written by the same person (or same school of thought...sell!) since I can't imagine it being a CCP but rather a pre-requisite at best. I am imagining creative use of air samplers. Perhaps our friends in the UK have a better idea since it's been part of BRC for several years.


Hi,

The BRC is not very prescriptive on this, with version 6 saying that compressed air should be filtered. The guide from the British Compressed Air Society or ISO8573.1-2010 actually give a spec for the air quality so failing you finding anything else you could use this for a basis of any sampling results. The BRC guidance for v % says that if you are using an oil based filter then this should be food grade oil.
Hope this helps.


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#10 QATim

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:46 PM

I was under the impression that only compressed air that comes in contact with your product or product contact packaging needs to be tested. An example is air being used to blow open a bag before the product is put into it, we sample that air for yeast/mold.


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#11 SQFconsultant

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 12:20 AM

There is a new requirement going into place with the new edition of the SQF Code. 11.5.7.2 states compressed air shall be monitored for purity. Most plants assure filters are at point of use and are changed regularly and any air guns are properly taken care of (not left on ground, etc.). How do you monitor for purity? I see there are many companies that will do this test for you, but is this something you can do yourself? If so, what do you test for? APC? And if so, how often? Any thoughts would be appreciated. :helpplease:



This also applies to other modules and not just module 11 for the SQF CODE


An Air Check Kit is available from:
http://www.aircheckl...d-industry.html



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Serving clients in: USA, Costa Rica, Panama & Caribbean Islands

International Toll-Free: 800-546-1452

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/getgoc

 

www.GlennOsterConsulting.com


#12 Dr Vu

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:48 PM

Thanks to you all. The articles I came up with must have been written by the same person (or same school of thought...sell!) since I can't imagine it being a CCP but rather a pre-requisite at best. I am imagining creative use of air samplers. Perhaps our friends in the UK have a better idea since it's been part of BRC for several years.


plant air monitoring is done with air plates @ 30 minutes sitting time in the room/ area of target; if using an air hose, blow for 10 secs and send to lab for Y/M.

to check for purity .... an easy solution which most auditors have considered adequate- Place a clean white coth on the nozzles and blow for 30secs... Inspect the cloth for any dirt. there shouldnt be any... Any dirt signifies oil/water and other foreign materials... document this as your program..

Edited by vulindlela, 11 June 2012 - 03:48 PM.

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#13 hchristopher

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 04:03 PM

There is no US requirement for purity of compressed air. I think this should be based on risk.

I would argue that including a filter check/replacement as part of your pre-ops/preventative maintenance plan might be sufficient


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#14 jenky

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 03:44 PM

I recently attended an SQF training class and this topic came up due to the new requirement and lack of guidelines and standards for compressed air purity in the food industry. The trainer (also an SQF auditor) recommended that companies follow the standards for medical compressed air purity until new standards are set for food.


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#15 bacon

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:28 PM

Thanks to you all. The articles I came up with must have been written by the same person (or same school of thought...sell!) since I can't imagine it being a CCP but rather a pre-requisite at best. I am imagining creative use of air samplers. Perhaps our friends in the UK have a better idea since it's been part of BRC for several years.


This white paper may certainly be overboard (and a sales pitch from Hitachi) but it points out some valid food safety concerns. I am a former BRC guy too, so I'm checking with my BRC colleagues as well...

Added.
11.5.7 Air Quality

Added.
11.5.7.1 Compressed air used in the manufacturing process shall be clean and present no risk to food safety;

Only really considering compressed air being used on food contact surfaces (and I have often used compressed air in “clean up”, this would also apply in some cases). If one is confident as to the “purity” of ones compressed air, a micro “test” the air quality as a way to validate “purity”.

Added.
11.5.7.2 Compressed air used in the manufacturing process shall be regularly monitored for purity.

If there is an air filtration system (even of our general internal air), one ought to be able to provide the auditor a verification check document that the filters are looked ad and deemed “OK”. Possibly part of ones PM Program.


My thoughts on the subject.

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#16 OneTallRabbit

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 07:44 PM

We, as a company, struggle with the definition of "purity" and how to test. We are considering using an outside analytical company to test at point of use/contact and use the information as baseline data. We will test right after changing the filters (new & clean), then right before we change the filters (at the end of the filter use). By doing this we are basically validating our filter program and developing a baseline. IF we find the results unacceptable per our risk assessment, then we need to reconsider our filter program and perhaps increase the PM and re-test. Of course, the complete process needs to be considered prior to beginning any testing protocol.


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#17 dl1888

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 08:55 PM

I have been having the same problem with defining how to test air quality and monitor it. I have done research on the topic and found that the testing and montioring of air quality is not going to go away anytime in the near future. If anything guidelines are only going to become more stringent. So as a company what we did is installed a filter in our air line (we have multiple air lines stemming of one air compressor) so we installed the filter before the air lines stemmed off throughout the plant. We installed a Hankison filter. This filter is approved to remove up to .001 microns of particles in the compressed air. To put that into perspective, I contacted SQF personnel and they informed me to filter up to .3 microns in your air lines.

Also, to start my program I am having it tested annually. Now when speaking with SQF personnel they told me to test for aerobic plate counts. However, I am also testing for enterobacteriaceae count, mold count, total coliform and yeast counts. This should be sufficient testing analysis for SQF. I was told by a person in the air testing circle that you should test at least quarterly. Why I asked? The answer they gave me was because quarterly would represent the 4 seasons and you would verify each season is spoken for in testing. BUT, here again is why SQF screwed up, they did not write a guideline in the new code (ed.7) on the frequency you had to test your air quality. Another reason I picked annually was because I look at air quality in the same importance as water quality. By USDA standards we only have to test our water annually.

As I am working on my air quality procedure, I realize SQF really dropped the ball on this element. They should of guidelines to follow for testing air quality, what needs to be tested (ex. mold, yeast, aerobic plate count.) and how frequently.

One question I still have for any readers out there informed on this subject is; once I have my test results, there is no standard I have to compare them to. So I need to know what is compliant and what is not. Is there any other benchmark that has standards on what air quality has to be to be compliant, BRC, ISO?


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#18 Urban Explorer

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:06 AM

APHA Recommended Levels of Airborne Contamination in Food Processing Areas is <90cm3 for BOTH Mesophilic Aerobic Bacteria and Yeast & Mold Combined

This is for the environmental air. However, if you are using compressed air to clean machines that are essentially exposed to the environmental air, then those would be good numbers to compare to. Just speculating since SQF doesn't know either!

I just sent out samples yesterday of our first compressed air test. I did two samples per line, one for yeast & mold and one for aerobic. My SOP states annually as well.


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#19 Trace Analytics

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 06:40 PM

Hello from Trace Analytics!  We are very happy to see that some of you found the information on our website helpful.  I thought I would take just a minute to address the comments that question whether or not compressed air should be considered a CCP (Critical Control Point) and how we came to use that reference on our website.  

From the BCAS, Food Grade Compressed Air, A Code of Practice available at www.bcas.org.uk:
"…Contaminants that may be a potential hazard in food for human consumption need to be subject to control as a lack of control could result in a potential prosecution. Compressed air may come into direct or indirect contact with food.  Where compressed air comes into direct contact with food, in particular during production or processing, this requires a much higher level of contaminant control and particular attention needs to be placed on contaminants added during the compression and the distribution process. e.g. bread packing, fluidised bed in the transfer of flour from a tanker etc."

"The code will contribute to the process involved with the legal requirement in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles which the food manufacturer is required to perform and is widely used in food and beverage production and processing. These principles are designed to ensure the quality of the final product by identifying potential contamination areas, known as Critical Control Points (CCP’s) and implementing rectification and monitoring Procedures."

From SQF's website under FAQ available at www.SQF.com:
"Purity is defined in the SQF Code (Appendix 2: Glossary) and means the absence of contaminants that could cause a food safety hazard. Pure air means the air is free of risk of cross-contamination to the products. Essentially, the air must not contribute any contamination to the product.

Food processing facilities need to operate from a fundamental assumption that compressed air can be a source of chemical and microbiological contamination. The site must verify and validate that the compressed air used in the facility is appropriate for use and not a source of contamination. Where compressed air comes in contact with exposed product, direct product contact surfaces and interior surface packaging, the air compressor should use food grade oil.

Preventive maintenance programs need to ensure that an appropriate filtration program is in place at the point of use and the filters are cleaned/changed at a frequency appropriate to the product and process or following any maintenance to air supply source or equipment. Maintenance must be done in a hygienic manner. Air should be filtered at the point of use for most operations (recommended filter size at point of use is 0.1 micron, or as determined as appropriate by a risk analysis). Nozzles and air hoses are to be in good condition, properly repaired and maintained in a hygienic state (e.g., cleaned and sanitized). Hoses and nozzles are to be kept off the ground.

Testing is to be conducted to validate the air-filtration control system for the compressed air is effective based on the risk to the product, but at a minimum of once a year. Testing can be done in-house or by a contracted party. Test requirements and number of samples will be based on the risk to the product and process. Microbiological testing can include testing for aerobic plate count and/or indicator organisms as appropriate to the operation. Testing for moisture should be considered if moisture is a potential risk to the product (e.g., dry operations). Aseptic sample collection should be used. There are a wide variety of measures available including the use of air sampling equipment, use of sterile sponges, membrane filtration and others."

From the FDA's website available at www.fda.gov:
"Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP)

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product."
 
The International Organization for Standardization created a specification (ISO 8573) specifically for compressed air used in manufacturing since it is known that compressed air can contain Particles, Water, Oil, Gaseous and Microbiological contaminants.  ISO 8573 the compressed air specification is available for purchase at www.webstore.ansi.org.

We are big fans of the Hitachi document in this thread and there are also some great docs from Parker Hannifin and Domnick Hunter.  We are always happy to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about compressed air used in the food manufacturing process.


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#20 Trace Analytics

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:02 PM

Here is a great article on the subject of compressed air testing

 

http://www.foodsafet...uring-practices


Edited by Laura TG, 11 June 2013 - 04:03 PM.

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