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Alternatives to compressed air micro testing for cleanliness?

Compressed air

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#1 Jonn Cotter_33853

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:15 PM

In leu of expensive compressed air microbial testing is there another way to validate for an auditor that our compressed air is clean?  We do a brief shot of air into glass jars before filing.  



#2 Charles.C

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:26 PM

In leu of expensive compressed air microbial testing is there another way to validate for an auditor that our compressed air is clean?  We do a brief shot of air into glass jars before filing.  

 

Assuming SQF require the typical test menu as in ISO standard + bacteria then probably No.

 

Once per year ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#3 The Food Scientist

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:53 PM

Compressed air quality testing is not limited to microbial testing. You can have particles, oil and other contaminants in your air that may pose food safety risks. But microbiology is one of those risks. Are you sure it is expensive? My 3rd party lab test compressed air (microbial) for $20 per sample.


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#4 Njaquino

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 10:51 PM

Compressed air quality testing is not limited to microbial testing. You can have particles, oil and other contaminants in your air that may pose food safety risks. But microbiology is one of those risks. Are you sure it is expensive? My 3rd party lab test compressed air (microbial) for $20 per sample.

 

$20!? What state are you in? Last year I paid close to $500 because we needed to rent out the apparatus.



#5 Jonn Cotter_33853

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 12:33 PM

Yes Food Scientist Please tell me the lab you are using, the cheapest I could find was $600.  I would love to know what company so I could use the same.  

thanks so much



#6 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 12:55 PM

The local lab that I use was $190 per compressed air test. We tested the main and backup compressor even though he said we really only needed to test the main. We also tested the ambient air in each processing room, the warehouse and outside to compare results and show the air inside is cleaner. The ambient air test was only $13. Total, everything cost me $434 and this is done once a year. 



#7 Jonn Cotter_33853

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:23 PM

would you be able to provide the name of this local lab?  



#8 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:29 PM

Alliance Analytical Labs



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#9 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:25 PM

$20!? What state are you in? Last year I paid close to $500 because we needed to rent out the apparatus.

 

I'm in Florida. Perhaps your testing is different then the one I was quoted for. We don't use any compressed air, so we don't test but I was given a quote of $20/sample. 

 

See photo attached.

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#10 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:31 PM

Yeah, our plate testing was $13 + $2 compliance fee. I am assuming that is the same as the $20 sample being quoted. The compressed air testing using this fancy machine and runs for like 5 minutes then collects the sample to be tested. Which is why it is a significant amount more. 



#11 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:38 PM

Yeah, our plate testing was $13 + $2 compliance fee. I am assuming that is the same as the $20 sample being quoted. The compressed air testing using this fancy machine and runs for like 5 minutes then collects the sample to be tested. Which is why it is a significant amount more. 

 

I mean in my previous jobs (SQF), when we use compressed air testing, we did this ($20 ish) test. No fancy  equipment. Auditors were ok with it?


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#12 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:43 PM

Oh, that's good to know! I just asked our lab to come in to so compressed air testing and that's what they did. I guess I can see that a low risk facility would only need to complete this using the plates. I will see about doing this next time then. Thanks for the info!  :spoton:



#13 Timwoodbag

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:45 PM

Warning we don't really use compressed air for processing, only for the machine pneumatics etc.  

 

We have been blowing air from random hoses around the facility into a coffee filter for about 2 minutes, then documenting it and keeping it in a ziplock baggie. 

Obviously this is only good for checking for oil and water particles big enough for the human eye to catch, but we have been SQF certified for 6+ years with no questions about compressed air so far.  

 

We do package with nitrogen, and all we do is record the read-out on the machine that states the purity level.  If it hits 0.1 we shut it down and service until we get back in range (maybe once a year?).



#14 Charles.C

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 03:46 PM

Warning we don't really use compressed air for processing, only for the machine pneumatics etc.  

 

We have been blowing air from random hoses around the facility into a coffee filter for about 2 minutes, then documenting it and keeping it in a ziplock baggie. 

Obviously this is only good for checking for oil and water particles big enough for the human eye to catch, but we have been SQF certified for 6+ years with no questions about compressed air so far.  

 

We do package with nitrogen, and all we do is record the read-out on the machine that states the purity level.  If it hits 0.1 we shut it down and service until we get back in range (maybe once a year?).

 

Hi Tim,

 

So what does "Purity" 0.1 actually refer to ?

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The Standard has -
 

13.5.3.1 Where compressed air comes into contact with food packaging or surfaces which contact the food packaging, the following requirements shall be met..
i.  Air  is  filtered  using  an  appropriate  filter  capable  of  removing  dust,  oil,  moisture  and microorganisms to avoid cross contamination to the packaging material;
ii. A system is in place to monitor the purity of filtered air.

13.5.3.2  Compressed  air  systems  used  in  the  manufacturing  process  shall  be  maintained  and  regularly monitored for purity and completed annually, at minimum.

 

 

 

the SQF Guidance has -

 

Purity means absence of contaminants that could cause a food safety hazard. Pure air means the air is free of risk for contamination of the products. Essentially, the air must not contribute any
contamination to the product.

 

 

Air quality program will be reviewed as part of the initial desk audit.  Subsequently, this element will be audited as part of each site audit through observation, review of records and interviews with operating personnel.  Evidence may include:

•  The condition of air compressors and compressed air used to transport product, or otherwise to come into contact with exposed product and product contact surfaces;
•  Filters are checked or changed at a frequency based on the air quality program;
•  Maintenance staff has the data specification sheet for the filter housing;
•  Follow up with preventative maintenance and SSOPs;
•  Performance characteristics of the filter in place must match the risks identified in the site’s assessment.
•  Compressed air that is in contact with food packaging is checked for purity using methods and at a frequency based on the air quality program and test procedures

 

.

From memory of earlier threads here - 

 

A "sterile" filter set-up + appropriate settle plate data typically offers direct compliance to 13.5.3.1

interpretation of "purity"  in 13.5.3.2 is "flexible". (as above quote)

 

PS - @ Jonn Cotter - a bit late but I assume yr query was for SQF ??


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#15 Jonn Cotter_33853

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:26 PM

yes my question was for SQF.  I havent found anything for under $600 and accounting is balking.  Its used in a jar that the consumer will bake with a kill step.  



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#16 Njaquino

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:42 PM

I'm in Florida. Perhaps your testing is different then the one I was quoted for. We don't use any compressed air, so we don't test but I was given a quote of $20/sample. 

 

See photo attached.

 

Thanks I am from California. Okay I do use compressed air


Edited by Njaquino, 24 January 2020 - 04:49 PM.


#17 Njaquino

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:44 PM

Yeah, our plate testing was $13 + $2 compliance fee. I am assuming that is the same as the $20 sample being quoted. The compressed air testing using this fancy machine and runs for like 5 minutes then collects the sample to be tested. Which is why it is a significant amount more. 

 Same and it was what was recommended by our consultant. 



#18 Charles.C

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 05:29 PM

 Same and it was what was recommended by our consultant. 

 

The interesting point is what is actually being measured for these cheap numbers ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#19 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 05:35 PM

As mentioned, our lab tested our ambient air in our processing rooms and outside which was $13/each test using air plates. They tested for bacteria, yeast and mold. Then they tested the air compressor and backup compressor which was $190 for each test which was an air quality: compressed air ISO 8573-7 test for APC, Mold, & yeast. 



#20 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:06 PM

Might be opening up a can of worms here... but in the SQF code it recommends and air filtration system of  0.01microns. Do most companies follow this AND test for micro on an annual basis? We send samples out for testing on , at least, an annual basis for microbial testing but we just got hit by an auditor stating we needed the air filtration system in place , which could potentially run us $1000 + to get a 0.01micron . It also suggests these be replaced annually. 

 

any thoughts? 

 

In our process we use compressed air to sometimes dry niches in a large ribbon blender or to blow off product during dry blending if we are not wet cleaning between. It is not being applied directly to the food, but to the food contact surface. 

 

thoughts? 



#21 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:13 PM

We have a 0.01 micron filter installed on our air compressor(s). Then we have the air quality testing complete annually to verify it is working properly. 



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#22 Danielle D

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:15 PM

Thanks - how often do you change the 0.01micron filter? 



#23 AC2018

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:30 PM

Not very often, I know not annually. But that may depend on multiple different factors like the brand you use and the processes in your facility. We have a Sullair compressor and use their filters. 



#24 Charles.C

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:49 PM

SQF have various "skeletons in the cupboard" over this topic. See these threads -

 

https://www.ifsqn.co...air-filtration/

https://www.ifsqn.co...ent/#entry81054


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#25 Timwoodbag

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 08:37 PM

Yes, this confusion among professionals is why companies have been advised to stay away from the expensive testing and filter replacements until you get dinged for it.  

 

If compressed air was part of our packaging process (food contact or food contact surface) I would force management to do the expensive air testing annually.

 

Lots of strong language in The Guidance, but lots of leeway to risk assess away for your product.  

 

11.5.7.2 Testing can be conducted to validate the compressed air-filtration control system’s effectiveness based on the risk to the product; however, testing must be conducted 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 is to be considered if moisture is a potential risk to the product (e.g., dry operations).

 

Aseptic sample collection needs to 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.

 

The site may consider the following controls for particulates

i. Intake filters to remove atmospheric dirt and solid particulates.

ii. Microorganisms – A point-of-use filter, minimum 0.01 micron, prevent pathogenic microorganisms from contaminating food. An effective PM program should be in place to maintain the integrity of the filter. Validation from the filter manufacturer is often considered adequate validation.

iii. Water, including vapor, liquid, condensed. A dryer in the compressed air system provides effective control. An effective PM program should be in place.

iv. Oil, including vapor, liquid and aerosols. The presence of coalescing filters in the compressed air system effectively removes contamination. An effective PM program should be in place to maintain the integrity of the filter.

 

We installed a 0.01 micron filter, and the filter manufacturer says as long as the "Purity" Read Out on the machine does not go up, then the filter is still effective.  I log this number twice every day.







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