Don’t Aerosol Contaminates in Your Food Plant: What You Need to Know

If your facilities cleaning system uses a water pressure that is above 25 bar than it is highly likely that surface contaminates like bacteria are being lifted from the surface and becoming fine airborne particles that can sit in the air for hours before they settle. This can be problematic from a food hygiene perspective and can be the reason that despite your teams best effort to clean the facility – poor swab scores are returned. The airborne bacteria and contaminates settle on the surface prior to swab testing, and unfortunately prior to production, which can cause headaches for the business.

What is Aerosol Contamination?

Aerosol contamination is basically when a microscopic particle gets broken down into a smaller particle size. Typically, the air we breathe is made up of smaller particles in it, known as particulate matter (PM). This smaller particle size in the air can travel further and can travel into the lungs and get trapped there if inhaled. Aerosol particles of bacteria can be broken small enough by high pressure cleaning systems that they can float in the air for hours before they settle on a surface.  As aerosol particles travel, if they contain bacteria and other microorganisms, it can contaminate the air that you breathe, and accumulate on surfaces in the food facility.

The Risk of Aerosol-ed Contaminates in Food Facilities

With over 20 years of experience we have seen various examples of airborne bacterial contamination causing troubles for food processing facilities. This problem often flies under the radar, as the most common response to poor swab results is improving the clean quality. Which, will grow frustrating when the cleaning team is putting in great effort to return a similar result. The problem is in the cleaning system not the clean, so until the root cause is addressed the contaminates will continue to frustratingly remain. Which risks having production halted or a recall, customers getting sick and damage to the brand. I’m sure the cleaning, QA and production staff don’t want to get sick from inhaling the bacterium.

The Importance of a Proper Cleaning System

There is a very good reason why industrial cleaning systems use air pressure. The volume of water that is used in cleaning industrial cleaning systems can be staggering, and with this much pressure comes a serious risk of over-pressurization. Air pressure will ensure that your cleaning system will provide effective sanitation, which makes it so important for every cleaning system that we use to be fit for purpose. The majority of cleaning systems use high pressure and water to remove the dirt and other surface contaminates. These cleaning systems will clean a room completely, from tiles and floors to glassware. Only if your cleaning system uses air pressure can you remove the surface contamination on glassware or tiles prior to swab testing. But in this case it isn’t more is merrier. At SGA our testing suggests pressurization should be under 25 Bar to mitigate the aerosol effect. Our Medium pressure WaterGuard systems are around 20 Bar of pressure which we have found to be optimal from a surface cleaning perspective and water/chemical efficiency perspective.

How to Create the Best Cleaning Process for Your Facility

Ideally, if you have an old, outdated or high pressure cleaning system you should consider making the switch to a new medium pressure cleaning system. This will offer improved chemical and water efficiencies and will solve any pesky airborne contamination challenges you might be facing. Ultimately, a cleaning system is a very important component of the cleaning process and opting to use a system that will compliment the cleaning teams efforts and improve the health and and safety of the facility is worth it. If, you’d like to know more about medium pressure cleaning systems, click here.

Conclusion

Don’t overlook the importance of the air pressure in your cleaning system and the headaches it can cause. Minimize the risk of contamination in your production areas and solve your stubborn swab results by reducing the pressure in your cleaning systems and save water/chemical in the process. I hope you’ve taken away some valuable information. If you enjoyed reading and think someone else could benefit from this information – please feel free to share.

Sending you our well wishes,

The SGA Team.

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