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Technology, Oil-Free Air Compressors

Oil-lubricated Compressors with Food-Grade Oil for the Food Industry?


There is always the question of which type of compressor to choose for food processing applications: oil-injected/oil-lubricated or oil-free? Unfortunately, there are no guidelines that recommend which compressor type to choose, but there is a food-grade compressed air code of practice that can be followed.

The Difference between Contact and Non-Contact Compressed Air

The compressed air code of practice for critical industries is divided into two categories: non-contact and contact. Non-contact compressed air is the air exhausted into the local atmosphere of food preparation, production processing, packaging or storage. In non-contact operations, oil content in compressed air should be less than or equal to 0.01 mg/m3.

Contact compressed air is the air that is used as a part of the food production and processing and includes packaging and transportation. In contact operations, oil content in compressed air should be less than 0.01 mg/m3. Both the non-contact and contact categories have very little difference in the amount of oil allowed in the compressed air.

Because of the very slight distinction between the oil content amounts, lubricated compressors with downstream filters and food-grade oil are often used in food processing applications. But is food-grade oil safe to consume, like olive oil or corn oil?

Is food-grade oil safe?

The material safety data sheet (MSDS) for food-grade oil says inhalation of aerosols (such as mists or fumes) generated by the material during the course of normal handling, may be damaging to the health of the individual. There is some evidence to suggest that the material can cause respiratory irritation which can lead to lung damage.

Food grade oil is a mineral oil which is petroleum based; it is not intended to be consumed. Some oil companies also do not always list the additives or other components in the oil due to confidentiality reasons. And while tests have proven that some oils are “less” toxic than other oils, in the MSDS, skin contact and inhalation should still be avoided as much as possible to prevent other serious health problems from occurring.

Oil-free Compressor Technology Offers an Alternative to Food-Grade Oil

Oil-free compressors, certified by ISO 8573-1 Class Zero standards, are the best alternative to using food-grade oil in food processing applications. Not only do oil-free compressors eliminate all risk with regard to product contamination, but also reduce the risk of production downtime and a damaged reputation from product recalls. Oil-free compressors not only offer reliability and energy efficiency, but also peace of mind when it comes to food safety.

We recently announced that Atlas Copco is the first compressor manufacturer to receive ISO 22000 certification by Lloyds Register for our production facility in Antwerp, Belgium, setting a new standard for key suppliers to the F&B industry. This facility manufactures state-of-the-art oil-free air compressors, blowers and air treatment products. Learn more by checking out the following posts, or by simply contacting us.

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