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Compressed Air Sample Policy

10.5.7..1 Compressed Air Compressed air testing SQF

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#1 Kevin Oliphant

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 02:24 PM

We used compressed air for cleaning our equipment and received a minor yesterday for not having a policy on the air and testing the air.  Somewhat odd as it was our 4th audit and the issue had never come up before but we had a different auditor this time.  In any case does anyone have a sample policy I could read through?


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#2 Snookie

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 03:17 PM

Can't share policy due to company rules, but it was developed off a procedure on this website.  If you google you will see good ideas.  In previous plants, I have kept air nozzles that were mine and mine alone.  I soaked them in a strong disinfecting solution.  i would use industrial towels properly identified and would run air for 30 seconds.  If there is water in the lines it will evaporate off paper, if a stain remains it has oil in the line.  Then I would turn the air on into a sterile bag with sponge provided by the lab for 30 seconds and send to the lab.  It fairly simple is cheaper than the kits sold  by companies who shall be nameless and it works.  


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#3 Charles.C

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 04:29 AM

We used compressed air for cleaning our equipment and received a minor yesterday for not having a policy on the air and testing the air.  Somewhat odd as it was our 4th audit and the issue had never come up before but we had a different auditor this time.  In any case does anyone have a sample policy I could read through?

 

Hi Kevin,

 

Perhaps this direct SQF quote is sufficient to generate a POLICY ? -

 

9.5.7     Air Quality
9.5.7.1     Compressed air that contacts food or food contact surfaces shall be clean and present no risk to food safety;
9.5.7.2     Compressed air systems used in the production process shall be maintained and regularly monitored for purity.

 


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Charles.C


#4 Trace Analytics

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 02:14 PM

Hi Kevin,

We find that audit findings can vary from auditor to auditor. While compressed air monitoring became a requirement in SQF Edition 7, it is not specific as to what must be tested. Some auditors accept testing for particles, water and oil only, others accept microbial testing only, and some require both. Your policy should follow HACCP principles. 


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#5 Ryan M.

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 02:44 PM

Ditto to what others have said, but you also need to consider how you are using the air during your cleaning.  Conduct a risk assessment for this because you may find that you don't need to test the air at all....for example, if you use air first to do an initial cleaning or clearing of surfaces and those same surfaces are then washed / cleaned and sanitized.  The air would have little to no risk.  On the other hand, if you use the air to dry equipment or surfaces after cleaning and sanitizing it would present a much higher risk.


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#6 Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 02:48 PM

Hi all,

First time here. Have been administering compliance programs for 25 years and just inherited another program assurance again this month.

 

I developed a compressed air quality assurance program as our machinery uses compressed house air for separation and blow off so, direct contact with the product. We test at point of use at each machine (currently about 12 locations plant wide) using 3M Petrifilm plates. Once you have used them it's really easy to do with the proper planning. I use a dedicated, sanitized hose and adjustable nozzle to expose the plates to our house air. Just prepare the plates with 1ml of a a .90% saline sterile solution (I use eye wash from the 1st aid kit, it's perfect). After they sit for at least an hour I blow a slow stream of air at the hydrated section of the plate for 5 minutes then cover and put in an envelope. I do control samples in each room by laying the exposed, hydrated plate flat on a horizontal surface for 5 minutes to rule out environmental issues (airborne yeasts and molds). I leave the plates in a controlled environment (65 - 70 deg @60% or so humidity - climate controlled office) to culture for 5 days then read the results and record on an in-house created form containing: The dates exposed and read, person performing the test, sample site location, exposure duration, mold count and yeast count with signature lines for person performing the test and person verifying the test. SOP must include CA if tests are above the set maximum count, in our case 10 each per sample. We have been doing this for 5 years and have never had a failed test mostly because of the nature of compressed air systems. As long as the stream tested is continuously or frequently used there is little chance of culturing mold or yeast in an amount that would warrant action.

 

Hope this helps you out. See attached


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#7 Jelena

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 03:41 PM

We also received a minor NC the last year for not specifying the limits and performing the tests (even though our point of use filters would satisfy all requirements). As a result we developed the protocol and have the compressed air tested (annually by an outside contractor) at the compressor level and at the point-of-use level for particulates, oil and water, as well as microbiological testing. The important thing is to know what are the requirements for your type of the product and what your compressor is capable of achieving (as you should not put unreasonable limits). Furthermore, as this type of testing is fairly expensive, you shall perform the validation study to determine if your filter change schedule is sufficient to ensure microbiological cleanliness of the compressed air by checking the products before and after a contact with the compressed air, before and after the filter change (sounds complicated, but it is fairly simple).

Hope this helps


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#8 Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 04:25 PM

Sorry, Didn't see the attachment on my post

Attached Files


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#9 Charles.C

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 06:31 AM

Sorry, Didn't see the attachment on my post

 

Hi HS,

 

Thks yr useful input. I anticipate that yr SOP is based on protocol material supplied with Petrifilm Plates ?

 

I deduce yr  experience is that SQF auditors hv only required Y&M count data. Previous threads here indicate that, depending on the application, additional info. is also sometimes required, eg plate counts at POI, validation of "sterile" air, etc.

 

A lot of different types of Procedures exist in this area making comparison to defined limits not so simple, eg -

 

http://www.ifsqn.com...ent/#entry81054

http://www.deibellab...-in-food-plants


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Charles.C


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#10 Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 02:08 PM

Charles,
That is correct, but your gap analysis or consultation will tell you that. For us as a contact food packaging manfacturer we maintain filter and compressor service records and only have to test for yeast and mold.


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#11 Charles.C

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 07:33 AM

Hi HS,

 

Thks comments. As you say, gap analysis is relevant but IIRC (see my previous linked thread) SQF Food auditors are famously vague/confusing/inconsistent on actual expectations (as is the 7.2 Code/Guidance also).

 

Also maybe worth noting that afaik the OP is a food manufacturer rather than in Packaging. Whether there is a significant difference, SQF audit-wise, haven't checked. Based only on previous threads, the Packaging industry in general seems to be less auditor nit-picked. :smile:

 

May i ask -

 

(a) Are you certified to SQF Packaging ?

(b) Do you use a recognised/validated  "sterile" filter array, eg Balston type, etc? (this should IMO encourage an auditor to be less concerned regarding micro. minutiae). I suspect several of previous posters had followed this (conservative) solution simply so as to avoid possible audit problems.


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Charles.C


#12 Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 01:00 PM

Yes, SQF level 3.
No on the filter. We use filter regulator mfg spec'd particulate filters replaced annually and the yeast and mold test also annually per our initial consultant's recommendation and has been audited and accepted for 4 years


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