FRESH FOOD MANUFACTURING STERILE AREA CLEANSING
Cleanrooms are most commonly found in Microelectronics, Pharmaceutical, and Biotech applications. But increasingly food manufacturers are turning to Cleanroom technology to control airborne contamination and increase product shelf-life. Food industry Cleanrooms are clearly less “clean” than those found in semiconductor or sterile pharmaceutical applications.
The requirements for the Food Processing Cleanrooms vary depending on the food being produced. For example the requirements in a bakery (a dry process) are going to be less stringent than in the (wet) dairy industry. Even within the dairy industry, the requirements for fluid milk will generally be less than for yogurt or cultured milk, where bacterial activity is more intense.
Food processors will usually consider Cleanroom technology because they are concerned with the spread of bacteria, yeasts and molds that can grow in the moist conditions of process areas and are carried by air currents throughout the food plant. The aim will be to keep the air in the immediate vicinity of the food being processed free from such microbial contaminants. This can reduce or eliminate the need for pasteurization or flash freezing process stages and lead to a better, fresher food product.
Process steps, in which an air exchange with the unclean, germ contaminated environment cannot be prevented, lead to:
Several trends are driving increased use of cleanrooms in a variety of food preparation settings. Dietary concerns are resulting in increased emphasis on general food quality and consumption of fresh foods. At the same time, there is a strong evolution of preference away from the use of additives and preservatives.
Foods that undergo some type of treatment that alters their normal complement of microorganisms are especially vulnerable to colonization by environmental microorganisms. Examples include yogurt, cheeses and other dairy products, juices, flavored milks and entrees. The growth of mushrooms is also sometimes carried out in cleanrooms to prevent overgrowth of opportunistic spores.