Shoppers’ expectations for high quality, healthy and conveniently accessible food products result in an ever-increasing demand on producers and packers. In Europe, suppliers must adhere to a series of strict legislative measures in order to deliver food that is safe to consume. The challenge many suppliers face is that the food they supply must satisfy the consumers’ needs of freshness and value for money.
With growing public knowledge of the issues surrounding the use of chemicals and preservatives in food production, suppliers must seek alternative methods for food preservation.
Spoilage begins instantly
As soon as a crop is harvested or an animal is slaughtered, the yield must be preserved. Nitrogen is commonly used to inhibit spoilage mechanisms in all stages of processing.
According to the European Union directive 2009/10/EC, when nitrogen is used as a preservative, it is classed as a food additive, and is designated an ‘E’ number — E941. This means it must comply with food additive regulation 1333/2008.
The European specification for food grade nitrogen gas defines a maximum remaining oxygen content of less than 1%, (99% nitrogen). The specification for food grade nitrogen gas is determined by the European Industrial Gases Association, (EIGA), in conjunction with the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, (JECFA), and can be found in their publication IGC Doc 126/11/E.
Methods of supply
In order to observe the terms within the legislation, care must also be given to the suitability of the materials of construction in which the method of supply occurs.
The International Organisation for Standards (ISO) outline in ISO/TS 220022-1:2009 measures related to the construction of equipment designed to produce and convey nitrogen gas to food applications including processing, blanketing or modified atmosphere packaging. It states:
“Compressed air, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other gas systems used in manufacturing and/or filling shall be constructed and maintained so as to prevent contamination.”
“Gases intended for direct or incidental product contact (including those used for transporting, blowing or drying materials, products or equipment) shall be from a source approved for food contact use, filtered to remove dust, oil and water.”
A compliant nitrogen supply
In both engineering development, and technical support, Parker employs dedicated, expert resources to ensure all equipment is designed, manufactured and supplied to meet the ever-demanding applications within the food processing sector. By understanding the detailed compliances needed to meet EU legalisation, Parker is able to support its customers and ensure they have the correct equipment in place.
Both the Parker domnick hunter NITROSource and MIDIGAS nitrogen generators produce fully compliant, food grade nitrogen. All of the components that contact the generated nitrogen gas stream are compared or analysed to reference standards for materials of construction covering food use, under the most stringent of global standards — the United States of America Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Article 21.
Parker prides itself in guaranteeing that if the equipment, including air treatment and nitrogen generators, are installed and maintained correctly, the producer will deliver both compressed air and nitrogen gas in line with EU regulations to their application. This is further backed by third party validation from both Lloyd’s Register and Edward’s Analytical.
For additional information on Parker domnick hunter NITROSource and MIDIGAS nitrogen generators, please visit our website or download the product brochures below.
This post was contributed by Phil Green, industrial gas application manager and Dave Sykes, marketing communications team leader, Parker Gas Separation and Filtration Division EMEA.