Dry Ice Blasting in the Food & Beverage Industry

By Luca Tomas

In the food industry, a production manager’s main concern is the cleanliness of their food processing surfaces. Removing leftover, grease, food, soot, and other contaminants from production equipment is a vital practice for avoiding bacteria growth and guaranteeing safe, high quality products. Due to the strict regulations concerning sanitation in this industry, certain actions have to be taken to ensure that the food processing equipment is kept uncontaminated.

One particularly inefficient strategy that production managers may choose to solve this problem is the traditional method of bringing in a cleaning crew who will often use harsh chemicals. The cleaning crew will use traditional cleaners and methods to try to remove as much contaminant as possible. The cleaning method used could possibly impact the taste, cooking, processing, and overall quality of the food being produced. This strategy is not very efficient or effective, very time consuming, and costly. There is, however, a method of cleaning these processing surfaces that is extremely effective, quick, cost effective, environment and plant friendly, and FDA, USDA, and EPA approved – dry ice blasting.

Dry ice blasting is an efficient method of cleaning contaminated surfaces. This method uses pelletized pieces of dry ice (frozen CO2) and uses high pressure air to accelerate the dry ice pellets into the surface being cleaned. Upon impact, the dry ice freezes the contaminants, eliminating their adhesive qualities, and removes the pollutants, leaving no secondary waste and little clean up.

There are many benefits to using dry ice blasting to clean food processing surfaces. One prominent benefit is the fact that there is no need to fully disassemble the processing equipment. The surfaces can even be cleaned while still hot and in place. This immediately makes the process faster and more efficient. Another benefit from this process is the absence of water, a notorious enemy of food processing plants. Water in a food processing plant can promote certain bacterial growth such as mold, E. coli, and Salmonella. When the equipment is dry ice blasted, no water is introduced to the crucial packaging or processing equipment. Dry ice blasting also eliminates the need to introduce any harsh chemicals that can be found in scrubbing cleaners.

Two more significant benefits of dry ice blasting are reduced downtime and electronic equipment safety. Due to the quickness of the whole process, there is less downtime needed to clean the equipment, therefore speeding up production. Also, dry ice blasting does not introduce any combustible or volatile byproducts and will not short – circuit breakers or switches.

A most recent success of Advanced Indoor Air Quality Care was a large beverage plant including a complete cleaning of much of their vital production and processing equipment. Advanced IAQ Care has cleaned conveyor belts and rollers for smooth bottle and can transportation between production equipment, laminators, bottle fillers, and many more pieces of important machinery in food and beverage plants.