August 27, 2019
Because many people, including employees in food manufacturing plants, spend most of their time indoors, checking the air quality can help determine problems. From the results of testing, the management can design a plan to help address problems, if there are any, and help improve the quality of air inside the plant.
Business Impact of Air Purity Testing
Safe Quality Food or SQF requires that compressed air purity testing be performed for the food industry. SQF compressed air testing requires that the air quality inside a food or beverage manufacturing plant be clean to ensure food safety for everyone.
The air quality inside food manufacturing plants is affected by odor emissions. These emissions can negatively impact indoor air quality and consequently lead to an increased rate of absenteeism and reduced productivity. This just means that air quality can greatly affect employee productivity and health.
The health problems associated with poor air quality inside the workplace can be as simple as respiratory difficulties and headaches, and as life-threatening as cancer, liver, and heart damage.
Poor air quality can also be responsible for getting some food products contaminated with microorganisms or absorb a different taste or smell during production. This can directly impact product sales, consumer confidence, and, ultimately, brand loyalty. Food and beverage manufacturers should operate alongside the latest innovations and manufacturing trends to keep their consumers.
Benefits of Air Purity Testing
Food production facilities should undergo air purity testing for many reasons. Here are some of the benefits related to air purity testing:
- Determine potential risks related to indoor air quality. Air can carry impurities, which can potentially be harmful. If found to contain an unacceptable level of contaminants through air purity testing, the air is then treated to help protect the consumer and help provide a safe and efficient production company.
- Manage the risk of air quality in food processing. As soon as the air quality test results determine the risks associated with the air quality in a food manufacturing plant, the company should then perform the needed steps to improve their air quality. These steps will ensure that microbes and other contaminants are reduced to acceptable levels to prevent food contamination.
- Reduce the risk of contamination in ready-to-eat food. Microbial contamination that happens in the late stages of food processing can remain with the contents until it reaches the consumer, making them sick. Air purity testing can therefore prevent this scenario from happening.
- Monitor compressed air purity. Regular air purity testing can help the management monitor its changes to ensure that best practices are performed to eliminate food contamination inside the plant. Aside from testing for allergenic and pathogenic contamination, air quality should also be checked for mold spores and yeast, which can negatively affect shelf life.
- Help prevent odor suppression. Sometimes, bad odor can develop in areas that are usually damp and dim, where mold can easily develop. Improving the air quality in these places can eliminate these odors, which can stick to food products.
- Enable people to breathe easier. Having air purity inside a food processing plant is one way to guarantee that everyone breathes in clean air. By making sure that the surrounding air is clean, people with allergies and respiratory problems will have lesser chances of suffering allergic reactions or attacks.
- Help detect mold spores in the air. Fungi is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution and usually thrive in warm and damp conditions. Mold can also easily spread to other parts of a building. Mold spores can potentially place people with weak immune systems in danger.
How Does Air Get in Contact with Food?
It’s not always obvious during which part of the production air gets in contact with food. Conveyors and counters are manageable places, but air is invisible. It’s impossible to see where it gets in contact with, if this is through the manufactured food, the packaging, or other food contact surfaces. Without treatment of the air and the use of best practices inside the workplace, contamination can possibly happen.
Some parts of the manufacturing process that involve indirect and direct contact with the air include drying, bagging, mixing, pneumatic exhaust, and air knives.
It’s important for a food manufacturing plant management to recognize the role of air purity in the workplace. Testing will help detect problems in air quality, including the presence of bacteria, mold, yeast, and other contaminants that can affect the people and the products made inside the plant. By reducing the occurrence of product contamination, the company should produce high-quality and safe products for their consumers.
TRI Air Testing Vice President Jonathon Sauseda has an extensive history of working in the biotechnology industry. Skilled in Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC/FID, GC/MS), SDS-PAGE, Biotechnology, and Cell Culture. Strong professional with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) focused in Project Management from Ashford University.