Filters Take the Strain

The sheer range of applications for filtration equipment in the food, beer and beverage filling industries is staggering. Every filling-processing operation has at least two filtration units installed and there has been a general move towards the use of more efficient systems, both for improving product integrity and to meet increasingly sensitive environmental considerations with regard to effluents.

Two interrelated trends are evident in the use of filtration equipment today: these are recognition of the overall cost-savings which may be obtained when appropriate equipment is installed, and the potential such systems provide for fillers to tighten overall quality standards.

For food, beer and beverage canners, by far the largest application for filtration equipment is the treatment of incoming water for use as a raw material. One US filtration equipment manufacturer estimates that this represents about 75 percent of sales of filtration systems into the canning industry, while systems used during processing and for treatment of effluents account for the remainder.

Strictly speaking, filtration equipment consists of fine gauge systems such as membrane filters, which are used to remove largely hidden impurities from the incoming water supply and from liquid products. But in a broader sense the description also encompasses processes for removing larger objects, often from food. Stainless steel mesh strainers are frequently used for this task.

Despite equipment improvements, filtration of food products is still a difficult exercise, especially with chunky, irregularly sized and shaped product in which foreign bodies such as twigs or stones may be difficult to detect. To reduce the chances of contamination occurring in the first place, an increasing number of food fillers are introducing due diligence procedures with their ingredient suppliers. This also acts as a safety net if a problem with an ingredient is discovered.

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