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What are the necessary filtration steps to produce pet food?

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While the pet food market has experienced rapid growth in recent years, adherence to strict regulatory requirements remains a concern among many large pet food processors. This raises questions about the essential filtration needs during pet food processing.

Compliance with standards such as Safe Quality Food (SQF), Gap Canada, and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) enables pet food processors to mitigate contamination risks and ensure that their products meet consumer expectations for quality.

In this regard, Sanitek delves into the critical aspects of filtration necessary for producing top-tier pet food, ensuring your products stand out in the market.

necessary filtration steps to produce pet food

Why Filtration is Essential for Pet Food Production?

Filtered air, vapors, and liquids play crucial roles in maintaining the quality of the final product during pet food processing. Producers must consider the production environment to ensure the safety of pet food, a concern shared with the production of human-grade food.

Moreover, filtration is as critical as sourcing high-quality ingredients. While it may not entirely eliminate all potential contaminants from the surroundings, effective filtration prevents contaminants from migrating downstream to the food or food contact surfaces.

3 Critical Control Points for Pet Food Filtration

As most pet food manufacturers know, as part of a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) program to ensure product safety, any processing equipment that comes into direct contact with the product must be inspected.

These utilities include steam, ingredients, process water, and compressed air and gases. Filtration of this processing equipment is a proven measure to help minimize contamination, including aseptic processes, to meet Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) goals and comply with food safety, quality and legal requirements.

Specifically, filtration is important at three key control points:

Point of Source

The point of origin is where air, vapors, or liquids enter your facility during the manufacturing process. This may include raw materials from suppliers, or substances that your facility produces itself.

By filtering at these entry points, you prevent outside contaminants from entering your production process, ensuring the quality and purity of the initial material.

food safe

Food Contact Points

Food contact points are places that involve air, vapors or liquids coming into contact with pet food, or surfaces that come into contact with food.

On a production line, these may be machines, pipes or containers used in food processing. By filtering at these points of contact, you can prevent potential contaminants from entering the final product, ensuring a safe and sanitary product.

Last Chance Points

The “last chance” location is the last place where contaminants can be filtered or removed. This may be the last point before the product is packaged. Once the product is packaged, any contaminants or impurities that enter the product can cause irreversible damage.

Sanitek Filter: Providing Effective Pet Food Filtration Solutions

Compatibility with Filter Housings

Air Filtration

Compressed air plays a vital role in operating processing equipment, drying after rinsing, and pneumatically transporting products through pipelines.

However, as air compressors age, they often leak oil and moisture, which can serve as ideal food sources for microorganisms and shed metal flakes.

Adhering to standards such as Safe Quality Food (SQF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which emphasize the importance of clean compressed air in food manufacturing processes, Sanitek offers tailored solutions for air filtration.

Our recommended vent filter and gas PTFE pleated cartridges feature a pre-filter designed to capture larger particles, effectively removing a significant amount of moisture and offering a filtration accuracy of approximately 0.45µm.

The gas PTFE filter acts as the final filter, effectively removing smaller contaminants with a filtration accuracy ranging from 0.1 to 0.22 µm.

Additionally, we offer a desiccant air dryer downstream to eliminate water vapor, creating an environment unfavorable for microbial propagation.

Liquid Filtration

Water is everywhere in pet food processing, from cleaning areas to ingredient and mixing tanks. It also feeds boilers to cook products, is used for industrial mixing and gravy injection, and provides mist for vitamin coatings.

Even if you use a clean water source, as a further precaution, the water line entering the process should be pre-filtered. Downstream of the process, final filters should be installed on water lines dedicated to washing, cooking, mixing or injection stations. Sterile input water will reduce the potential for contamination and ensure better product consistency.

Redundant Filtering

Have you ever heard of “redundant filtering”? Redundant filtration reduces the need for downstream point-of-use filters by removing larger contaminants with a pre-filter at the point of origin, thereby reducing the cost of maintenance and filter replacement.

It helps reduce the risk of different types of contaminants being generated at different points in the process. The use of “step-down” or graded filtration is not only effective in reducing the risk of contamination, it is also cost-effective.

Steam Filtration

Steam Filtration

Steam is great for cooking because you can control the temperature very accurately by controlling the steam pressure. Steam can be injected directly into raw food to defrost or cook it, or it can be used to heat jackets around raw food.

Some pet foods are extruded under high-pressure steam to form pellets or coarse grains. Steam is also used during canning to cook foods sealed in cans.

Over time, steam boilers can become a breeding ground for contaminants, as strong chemical cleaning solvents can degrade equipment performance.

Steam filtration can help protect your products and equipment from by-products. The same is true of spray balls on steam injectors. Their small holes can become clogged with particles carried in unfiltered steam lines.

Wherever steam comes into contact with food, it must be cooking-grade steam. Guidelines for this come from the dairy industry and its 3-A standard, which defines cooking-grade steam as removing 95% of particles 2 microns or larger.

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Conclusion

With growing consumer concerns regarding the quality and safety of pet food, an increasing number of processors are transitioning to human-grade food standards.

Now equipped with insights into the crucial filtration requirements for pet food production, you’re likely considering upgrades to your filtration standards.

If you’re uncertain about the best filtration solution for your needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to the filtration experts at Sanitek Filter.

With over a decade of experience in the industry, we’re committed to assisting you in producing pet food that meets the highest standards of safety and quality, within your desired timeframe.

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