The dairy industry is currently enjoying a period of growth, principally driven by a shift in consumer preference towards protein-heavy diets as opposed to carbohydrates and an increase in the average income of emerging markets. Furthermore, consumer preference for dairy product is increasingly influenced by the methods used in the production, processing and packaging of the product.
In response to consumer trends, dairy producers are giving a significant amount of consideration to the manner in which the product is handled down the value chain, particularly regarding food safety. Product contamination resulting from lack of food safety may result in consumer distrust, which is a particularly disruptive attitude in an era when every consumer has the ability to publish their review to a potential audience of millions via social media.
Microbial security of dairy processes
In an effort to reduce breaches to food safety, dairy producers are increasing the microbial security of their critical processes, eliminating airborne microorganisms from the immediate environment of the sensitive dairy product. Dairy produce is a haven for spoilage organisms, providing favourable nutrients and pH, meaning product contamination may not only reduce product shelf-life, but result in complete spoilage before the product can be consumed.
The provision of sterile gas using sterile gas filter cartridges during critical processes of dairy production is, therefore, an essential component of dairy manufacture. Dairy products are exposed to gas during storage and packaging, creating an opportunity for contamination if not properly controlled. The sterile filtration of gasses used in dairy tank ventilation and aseptic packaging, therefore, eliminates the possibility of spoilage, protecting the product and fundamentally the brand's reputation which could be damaged in the event of a food safety breach.
Steam-in-place and frequent filter replacement
Ensuring processes remain completely aseptic throughout continuous production involves ensuring filter validation. Validation of filters requires regular steam-in-place (SIP) cleaning to sanitize build-up of bacteria on the cartridge membrane and regular integrity testing, such as that offered by Valairdata 3, to ensure filters are not compromised. Dairy producers regularly run SIP cycles in the forward direction without complication, however, issues can arise when running a SIP cycle on standard filters in the reverse direction. Due to the hydrophobic nature of typical sterile filter cartridges, condensate is unable to pass through filter membranes in the reverse direction, leading to a build-up of pressure and consequential filter failures. Typically, the reverse steam sterilization and subsequent frequent replacement of filter cartridges has been viewed by the dairy industry as a necessary expense to ensure complete aseptic conditions of their processes – however, there is a way to reduce this cost.
Reducing the cost of filter replacement
Hearing these concerns from some of the world’s leading dairy producers, Parker Bioscience Filtration Division has launched the innovative ASEPT-X sterile filter cartridge. Unlike any other on the market, the ASEPT-X is capable of withstanding over 100 SIP cycles in both the forward and reverse direction without the need for condensation management, reducing the stress on the cartridge which laboratory tests found to be five times longer than the next best alternative. What’s more, when trialed at a market leading dairy producer, the company witnessed over a 50 per cent reduction in their annual consumable spend, due to the reduced frequency of filter change-outs. Furthermore, due to the increased durability of the ASEPT-X, dairy producers can expect an increased microbial security of their processes, reducing the likelihood of product contamination compared to the next best alternative.
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