The use of cleanrooms in the food manufacturing industry

There has never been a more critical time to ensure that food manufacturing is held to a high standard. The food we eat must be safe for consumption, particularly for those with specific dietary requirements such as gluten or lactose intolerances.

Food manufacturers operating within the dairy and meat industries, as well as companies within the specialist processed food sector, are making use of cleanrooms to provide customers with peace of mind.

How does a cleanroom work?

With strict filtering and ventilation systems, cleanrooms are entirely sealed off from the rest of a production facility; preventing contamination. Before air is pumped into the space, it is sifted to capture mould, dust, mildew and bacteria. In addition, all personnel operating within a cleanroom must wear masks and cleansuits.

Benefits of cleanrooms within the food industry

The choice to invest in cleanroom technology within food manufacturing processes deliver numerous benefits, including:

  • Preventing contamination
  • Providing peace of mind to customers
  • Greater efficiency
  • Improving the quality of food products
  • Reducing production times
  • Extending shelf-life
  • Higher profit margins
  • Simplifying processes

Basic cleanroom requirements

Three essential requirements must be adhered to when operating a cleanroom.

  1. Internal surfaces must be impervious to microorganisms, use materials that do not create flakes or dust, be smooth, crack and shatter-proof as well as easy to clean.
  2. All employees must be fully trained before access to the cleanroom is granted. As the largest source of contamination, anyone entering or leaving the space must be highly managed, with control over how many people enter the room at a given time.
  3. An effective system must be put in place to circulate air, removing unwanted particles from the room. Once the air is cleaned, it can be distributed back into the room.

What food manufacturers are investing in cleanroom technology?

In addition to companies operating within the meat, dairy and speciality dietary-requirements industry, other food manufacturers making use of cleanroom technology include:

  • Grain milling
  • Fruit and vegetable preserving
  • Sugar and confectionary
  • Bakeries
  • Seafood product preparation

among others.

The use of control environments in the food packaging sector

In addition to food manufacturers making use of cleanrooms within their production and preparation processes, the food packaging sector is also investing in these spaces.

CleanPack is an EU-funded project that has integrated multiple techniques into one machine to produce packaging that maintains the same food safety levels found in cleanrooms. The device operates via a four-module design:

  • Thermoforming module
  • Filling module
  • Thermosealing module
  • Cutting module

And can be adapted to different customer and market requirements. In addition, the technique is increasing food shelf-life by at least 150% without requiring the addition of chemical preservatives.

During a period of uncertainty stemming from the spread of coronavirus, and a rise in people seeking diet-specific food alternatives, knowing that companies within the food industry are making use of cleanrooms is exceptionally welcome.

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