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On the Safe Side: How Pneumatics Protects Our Food

经过迈克·帕尔齐奇(Mike Parzych),Product Marketing Manager, Norgren.

In February, the Abbott baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, closed due to concerns that its formula may have been contaminated with a bacteria implicated in the death of at least one infant. This shutdown of one of the nation’s largest baby-formula facilities occurred at a time when supply chains were stretched thin, exacerbating a serious formula shortage that had been plaguing families across the country. After several months of continuous supply depletion, Abbott was finally granted permission by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reopen the plant in May. Unfortunately, supply chains inevitably need time to recover. At the time this article was written, formula shortages were expected to continue impacting Americans for months to come.

不安全的食物的危险既不是新的也不陌生。自从国会通过了1906年的《食品和毒品法》以来,数百修正案和改进在法律上被认为是必要的,以便消费者可以相信他们所吃的食物不会伤害它们。为了遵守这些法律,必须不断适应生产和食品处理技术。

气动技术在供应链中起作用,将食物从农场带到桌子上。本文探讨了食品和饮料加工中的流体动力技术,并描述了促进必要水平的设计特征和考虑因素。

食品加工安全

FDA指南清楚地了解了处理食品以供人类食用的任何设备。在其他法规中,所有设备必须由无毒物质制成,不会在与食物接触时腐蚀。此外,必须将接缝平滑粘合,以避免微生物的生长;必须处理接触食物的压缩空气以防止污染;和设备必须充分清洁。这意味着气动加工的气动应用需要特定的元素,然后才能安全地处理食品。

注意事项for washdown.适当设计时,气动组件非常适合频繁进行洗涤,尤其是考虑到电子组件的最小参与,需要保护它免受水的影响。但是,有一些考虑因素可以确保可以进行安全的饮食清洗。首先,必须认真选择用于食品和饮料的材料。

同时,很大程度上取决于正在加工的食物类型。几种由不同化学特性组成的食物类型 - 在可能与其他食物接触的设备表面上留下了不需要的食物材料。例如,糖是水溶性且易于去除的。但是,蛋白质是碱性的,很难去除。这意味着要进行洗涤过程的组件必须能够承受适当的,有时刺耳的清洁化合物而不会腐蚀。这些标准不仅限于与食物直接接触的组件。飞溅区和非食品区域中的组成部分也必须具有耐腐蚀,可洗和卫生状态。

Considering these requirements, appropriate material choice is paramount when designing a pneumatic system. Metals such as aluminum, brass, and copper can be susceptible to corrosion, and care must be taken when cleaning them. Due to its resistance to corrosion, stainless steel is a favored selection for components such as valves and actuators in a number of applications – most especially in more frequent washdowns.

In fact, stainless steel is specified in many industry and regulatory standards as the preferred surface for food equipment. For example, 3-A Sanitary Standards identify 300-series stainless steel as the preferred surface for use in the milk industry. Other grades of stainless steel are appropriate for alternative purposes such as handling high-fat products or meats. Titanium is a corrosion-resistant option, particularly appropriate for products containing high levels of acid, salt, or other corrosive materials. Depending on the chemistry of the cleaning solution, plastics such as acetyl resin are another viable alternative.

气动组件还受到利用,在仅需要低到中度力的应用中进行洗涤。在这些情况下,在选择气动组件(例如执行器和阀门)时,应首先考虑建筑材料。应尽可能使用不锈钢组件,例如用不锈钢身体,端盖和活塞杆设计的气缸中。

Other design features that make pneumatic cylinders optimal for use in low-to-moderate force washdown applications include rod wipers, which limit the potential for external contamination during pressure spraying; rod scrapers, which are more rigid and are suitable in applications where material can harden on the rod; and corrosion-resistant bearing and bushing materials, such as polytetrafluoroethylene.

Preventing contamination.此外,气动成分的物理设计对于防止食物应用中的污染至关重要。裂缝,缝隙和其他难以清洁的区域是有害细菌(例如大肠杆菌和沙门氏菌)生长的主要位置,这可能导致食物中毒。因此,必须注意选择最小化气动设备中这种潜在细菌储存库数量的产品。与食物接触的任何表面都应光滑。此外,焊接接缝应是连续的,没有凹坑或裂缝,任何角的角度都应在一个角度或位置,可以轻松清洁它们。

如果食品通过一系列泵,电动机,阀门,传感器和配件移动,则产品可能会与润滑剂(例如O形圈油脂或其他污染物)接触。较新的自动化系统设计采用预包装,消毒的油管或膜袋,在产品和处理它们的组件之间创建无菌屏障。例如,捏合阀与管子相互作用,而不是直接通过传统的湿阀组件分配食品或饮料,而是从未触摸被分配的流体材料。

同样重要的是要考虑物理表面并不是食品加工中气动性的唯一关注点。任何可能与食物接触的压缩空气也必须干净。病原体,水分和碎屑可能在空气中压缩为气动电路。因此,气动系统的设计师必须认识到压缩空气与食物接触的地方,并且必须为机器配备高质量的过滤器,以确保空气纯度并降低食源性疾病的风险。润滑是另一个问题,因为油润滑剂可能会滴落并污染食物。气动成分可以使用食品级油脂,因为它是非迁移的,不太可能滴落。由于它是食品级,因此与食品的最小接触被认为是安全的。

安全的食品

气动学在粮食服务中也起着越来越多的作用,即食品制备和饮料分配。流体功率组件和自动化的进步正在使逐步更安全的选择,以减轻有可能损害食品安全的条件。

饮料分配。It does not matter whether it is dispensing hot, cold, or frozen beverages, a foodservice or drinking establishment requires fluid control and pressure management to continue satisfying its customers. For example, pressure regulators are used in commercial establishments for precise CO2 and nitrogen control for soft drink, coffee, and beer dispensing systems.

However, beverage dispensing comes with its own food safety considerations. For example, fluidics and pressure management solutions are indispensable to coffee and tea brewers. Valves provide consistent control when drawing cold and hot water, steam, or syrups and in semiautomatic and fully automatic espresso machines. Yet the introduction of contaminants to beverages through a coffee machine presents a safety concern. To address this, solenoid valves have been perfected for commercial coffee machines to prevent corrosion and limescale buildup and to provide quick heating with minimal heat loss.

液体分配遇到的另一个安全问题是滴水,这有可能污染其他食物或饮料,并可以在滴水地点的任何地方促进细菌的生长。一个位于关闭阀和分配喷嘴末端之间的吮吸阀可以在关闭关闭阀关闭时进行真空,从而消除任何滴水。

所有这些都反映了整个行业范围内的更大的推动力,以保持标准以确保食品和饮料产品的安全性。例如,组件需要由NSF批准的材料构造。所有食品设备材料和饮用水系统组件必须为NSF/ANSI 51和NSF/ANSI 61认证。数百家制造商获得了NSF/ANSI 51的认证,而成千上万的制造商已获得NSF/ANSI 61认证。

食物准备中的自动化。部分是为了响应Covid-19的大流行带来的食品安全意识的提高,粮食服务机构越来越多地转向自动化,就像自助服务,无接触订购售货亭和机器人玉米饼制造商一样多样。自动化设备减少了通过人际交往或个人卫生不良的疾病的机会。毕竟,机器人不能通过咳嗽或打喷嚏来污染食物。

What’s more, many of these automated solutions can use pneumatics. One example is the use of pneumatically powered grippers or vacuum cups at the end of robotic arms to handle food. Here, care must be taken to match the cup design to the type of food being handled. Vacuum cups can be made of FDA-approved silicone to be safe for food handling, and they are easy to clean through washdown or reversing the flow of air. When the cup becomes too old to avoid contamination, it can be swapped out for a new one without difficulty.

如前所述,食物制备需要食物安全,并且可以承受环境因素而不会损坏或腐蚀。特别是,热门厨房的油脂和相应的洗涤溶液再次引起人们的关注,使不锈钢成为执行器和其他组件的首选材料。

在餐饮服务中,自动化增强但不能取代劳动力。通过提供一种防止污染并通过与食物不太人性接触来防止污染和减少食源性疾病的方法,自动化为食物准备提供了更安全的选择。

从加工到食物制备和饮料分配,流体力和其他自动化技术都集成到食品和饮料行业的各个方面。正在开发新的功能和应用程序,这是由建筑材料,专业功能以及与高级技术合并的进步所实现的,以改善流程并满足食品和饮料产品的需求。随着这些新解决方案的发展,它们的能力也可以确保食品和饮料行业的安全性。


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