Any trip to the supermarket will demonstrate just how popular healthy dairy products are – products which are low in fats, salts, sugars and preservatives. This trend has driven the growth of aseptic filling. However, the reduction in the use of preservatives, sugars and fats means that these natural dairy products can become ideal environments for bacterial growth.
One way to prevent contamination – and the resulting economic damage and wastage – is through the use of sterile gas in the production and packaging processes. In any modern plant application and particularly those within the dairy industry, the performance of sterile gas filter systems is critical to the quality assurance objective of protecting the end product from contamination.
The sterile filtration of compressed gases is an essential consideration in the HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) framework. HACCP is an internationally recognised approach for the systematic identification, control and ongoing monitoring of potential hazards in a dairy production process, principally aimed at protecting consumer health.
Sterile filtration of gases which come into direct contact with the product or packaging is highlighted as a critical control point in the HACCP plan. A monitoring programme is therefore required to make sure the filter system is fit for purpose and is capable of delivering ongoing sterility.
The integrity testing of sterile gas filter systems has traditionally been difficult to perform, conflicting with the demand for efficiency in dairy industry operations. Traditional methods of integrity testing include diffusional flow, pressure decay, bubble point and water intrusion. While these methods are reliable, they are also time-consuming – this mainly stems from the need to prepare the filter for the test and then restore the filter system back to the process. Liquid-based methods include wetting the filter medium with a solvent and subsequently flushing and/or drying the filter after testing. In addition, liquid-based methods aren’t compatible with sterilzing gas filters which use a depth style filter matrix, rather than a membrane, as a filter layer.
Valairdata 3 has been designed by Parker Bioscience using state-of-the-art technologies and more than 40 years of experience in providing sterile air and gas filtration solutions. Valairdata 3 is the quickest and easiest way to verify the integrity of sterile gas filters, with minimal downtime. The innovative integrity testing unit guarantees fast results, accurate testing and easy portability.
Minimizing downtime of any operation is critical and historically, liquid-based tests have required long stabilization and test times. Valairdata 3 provides results on-site within seconds. Further minimizing downtime, the filter can be introduced back into process immediately after testing, with no flushing or drying required.
The ability to accurately verify the sterility of a gas filter is critical to ensure the process is secure. The Valairdata 3 aerosol challenge is fully correlated to aerosolized bacterial and viral challenges and is a reliable, accurate method for detecting integrity. Existing liquid-based testing methods often have inaccuracies for multi-cartridge times. Details of the test are then securely stored within the Valairdata 3 unit in accordance with FDA 21CFR part 22 requirements.
Unit and data portability
Valairdata 3 is a lightweight and portable solution which uses a long-life battery, making it suitable for use on-site and in-situ. Using Valairdata 3 in-situ also minimizes the risk of contamination. After testing, results are quickly transferred by USB drive enabling easy tracking, storage and back-up of data. No additional software is needed for this transfer, making data migration straightforward.
Valairdata 3 is a modern, efficient method of ensuring the integrity of a production process, employing state-of-the-art technology to provide fast, accurate, and portable sterility testing of gas filters. The Valairdata 3 solution can, therefore, be easily integrated into a dairy plant’s HAACP framework and production objectives of maintaining product quality and increasing operational efficiency.
To learn more about the Valairdata 3 and filter integrity testing, please visit our website.
This post was contributed by Daniel Vecsey, market development manager, Parker Bioscience Division, United Kingdom.
Parker Bioscience Division offers filtration solutions to protect the quality and taste of beverage products. By working with our application experts, manufacturers can develop a tailored solution to ensure their beverage is free from contamination, full of flavour and visibly clear.