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Useful Information

Food Grade Lubricants must now be used if there is any contact with food, or food packaging or food packaging material.

The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) in conjunction with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently launched a Food Grade Compressed Air Code of Practice to assist food producers in regulating their supply of compressed air. However, the regulation itself did not set specific targets or limits that should be employed. This code of practice has been developed to clarify and regulate the use of compressed air that is used in any part of the 'farm to table' production process.

As such, both compressed air that is used in direct contact with food production as well as compressed air that does not come into contact with the food product but forms part of the production process are considered in the Code of Practice.

The Food Industry has faced increasing pressure in recent times to adhere to extremely high standards of hygiene and health & safety when preparing food produce. Consequently, the use of oil lubricated compressors in the food production process has from time to time come under attack and caused widespread concern.

Compressed air users should not be alarmed about the new Code of Practice as it clearly confirms that both oil lubricated as well as oil free compressors are acceptable methods of generating compressed air for use in the Food Industry. Companies who are already using oil lubricated compressors in their food production process should not panic and feel that they have to rush out and purchase an oil free compressor. This is not necessary so long as they are using a Food Grade compressor lubricant such as Morris Lubricant FG-68 available from Airware International Ltd.

The main requirements for the food manufacturer's operating a compressed air system are:

  • Food manufacturer's must complete a "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point" (HACCP) process as a risk assessment to etermine whether or not the compressed air comes into contact with the food.
  • Class 1 quality air is a prerequisite. When the compressed air is generated by oil-lubricated compressors the lubricant MUST be Food Grade.
  • An air purity test should be carried out twice a year to confirm the air quality.
  • Where the air comes in contact with food it must have a - 40C dewpoint. That means a suitably sized desiccant dryer must be fitted into the system.
  • All compressed air equipment should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.
  • There must be a planned preventative maintenance programme in place that also meets the requirements of the Pressure Systems regulations and hygiene requirements.
  • Records of maintenance, air quality tests etc should be documented and recorded.

In reality many food manufacturing plants will already comply and the requirement for air quality testing and a documented preventative maintenance regime will cause very little anxiety. If in doubt - contact us for advice.

‘F’ gas regulations - Does your business use air conditioning, heat pumps, refrigeration or compressed air dryers?

The European Union's F-gas Regulation No 842/2006 became law on 4 July 2006. This imposes obligations on "operators" of this equipment from 4 July 2007 that you should know about. F-gases include Huffs, which are the commonest refrigerants in use today. The Regulation aims to minimise emissions of these gases, which affect global warming if they escape into the air.

User responsibilities

"Operators" are defined as the people or organisations that have actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment. For stationary refrigeration, air conditioning, heat pumps or compressed air dryers with over 3kg charge (6 kg only if fully hermetically sealed), operators must:

• Prevent leakage, and repair any leaks as soon as possible
• Arrange proper refrigerant recovery by certified personnel during servicing and disposal
• Carry out leak checks to the schedule shown below
• Ensure that only certified competent personnel carry out leakage checks
• Maintain records of refrigerants and of servicing

As far as compressed air dryers are concerned, most dryers over 250 cfm (about 7 m3 /min) will be affected.

For non-stationary equipment (e.g. mobile units on trucks) and any other products containing F-gases, operators must ensure that appropriately qualified personnel are used to recover gases, as long as this is feasible and not excessively expensive.

Leak checking schedule

The checking (to be done in a way to be defined in detail by the EC) varies depending on the amount of refrigerant in the system:

• At least annually for applications with 3kg or more of F-gases (6kg only if the unit is fully hermetically sealed)
• At least once every six months for applications with 30kg or more of F-gases
• At least once every three months for applications with 300kg or more of F-gases
• Leakage detection systems must be installed on applications with 300 kg or more of F-gases.
• If a leak is detected and repaired, a further check must be carried out within one month.

Maintenance and servicing records

Operators of stationary systems containing 3kg (6kg if hermetically sealed) or more of F-gases must maintain records including:

• Quantity and type of F-gases installed, added or recovered
• Identification of the company or technician carrying out servicing
• Dates and results of leakage checks

It is the operator's responsibility to ensure that the relevant servicing personnel have obtained the necessary certification, which shows that they understand the regulations and are competent.

How to know how much F-gas is in the system

The system should be labelled with this information. Do also remember that R 22 gas, a very common gas in older refrigeration and older compressed air dryers will no longer be available after 2010.

If in any doubt, call us and we can check your compressed air systems and advise on record keeping.

Water Industry Act - Last updated: (February 2005)

The Water Industry Act came into force in 1991 and consolidates various enactments relating to the appointment of water and sewerage undertakers, conditions of appointment, supply of water and the provision of sewerage services. The Sections of the Act which are of particular importance to industry, concern the criteria for discharging effluent into the sewerage system.

And that means condensate waste from ALL compressed air installations.

So, what does that mean to you?

There are really only three options when it comes to copressor condensate waste.
  • Take the risk, dump it on the floor or in a gully or wherever. Eventually ‘they’ will catch you out and could fine you up to £50,000.
  • Have the condensate removed by a licensed waste contractor. For that you will need to register with The Environment Agency and get a Registration Number, and of course, pay a fee! And pay the Waste Contractor!
  • Have the Compressed Air Condensate Waste processed with a low cost simple to install Oil – Water Separator, and have the contaminated concentrated waste removed when (we) service your compressor and your Oil – Water Separator.
We are very happy to advise you on how best to proceed. Please contact us.