Food Grade Air (General)

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Food Grade Air (General)

A number of important changes to compressed air within food applications have been made recently, the following summary highlights any areas which could impact on to existing or new equipment. Whilst these changes are at present recommendations only they are to be read in conjunction with the mandatory HACCP Food Grade Compressed Air which is a UK law from January 2006 for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Most importantly is any customer who is a part of the BRC (British Retail Consortium) or who supplies to a member of the BRC will be expected to adhere to the new Code of PracticeŁ if they are to continue with this supply. The code of practice has been jointly prepared by the British Retail Consortium and The British Compressed Air Society to give useful guidance and allow informed decisions on what type of compressed air is required for each customers applications.

Best Compressor Solutions

There are several suitable solutions, and they are divided on wether the compressed air comes in direct contact with the food or not.

  • Oil free compressors with dryer (-20░ dew point) - Click here
  • Oil free compressors with dessicant dryer (-40░/70░ dew point)
  • Screw compressors with adequate filtration Click here
  • Screw Compressors with food grade oil Click here
  • Scroll Compressors, Oil free Click here
  • KeyKeg compressors Oilf Free, Stainless steel cabinet Click here

Call Our Sales Team to discuss your application for professional advice


To prevent possible contamination from compressed air during the production, processing, handling, packaging and transporting within the food chain at all stages from source to consumer, the code of practice has been drawn up to allow the customer to identify hazards and take steps to eliminate these hazards (requirements of HACCP). The contaminants identified in this code are dirt (solid particles), water (as humidity) and oil. Additionally Microbiological Contaminants shall be considered as a potential risk. The code sets the minimum recommendation for compressed air quality in new installations. Consideration has been given in all potential contamination issues surrounding compressed air and measuring methods for air quality testing.


The code of practice identifies the air purity requirements for compressed air for both contact and non-contact applications. It identifies the testing procedures to verify the compressed air quality. It gives recommendations on the types of equipment to be used and the maintenance activities associated with these types of equipment. Importantly the code of practice does not cover the use of compressed air as a food ingredient. In addition the production of beverages is not covered by this code with the exception of the bottling and canning processes. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point process shall follow the recommendations identified in the British Retail Consortium publication, BRC Global Standard Food. The distinction between high risk and low risk shall be decided by a competent person


The code of practice details all areas of the installation from the location of the compressor in respect of airborne contaminants, the ventilation and cooling of the compressor to ensure good operating temperatures, the compressed air distribution system and choice of pipe material and the air treatment according to the air purity specification. Importantly it advises that improvements to existing systems may not show immediate improvements and the use of purity testing will be important to monitor the success of the changes. The use of compressor lubricants is covered within the code, specifically identifying the need for a risk assessment (HACCP) to assess whether the use of food grade lubricants are required, if food grade lubricants are currently not being used and the risk assessment identifies a potential hazard, then the oil shall be replaced with food grade oil in line with the procedures identified in the EHEDG Document 23.

Air Purity

The code identifies the air purity requirements between two clearly identified groups:
a. Air that comes into direct contact with the food (contact)
b. Air that could come into contact with the food (non-contact)

The contaminant values for dirt and oil given below are those at reference conditions in ISO 8573-1 at a temperature of 20║C, absolute atmospheric pressure of 1 bar and relative water vapour pressure of zero.


Particle size, d μm 0,10 < d ≤ 0,5 0,5 < d ≤ 1,0 1,0 < d ≤ 5,0
Maximum number of particles per m│ 100 000 1000 10
Water ≤ -40║C pdp (at airline pressure)
Oil - Less than 0.01 mg/m│


Particle size, d μm 0,10 < d ≤ 0,5 0,5 < d ≤ 1,0 1,0 < d ≤ 5,0
Maximum number of particles per m│ 100 000 1000 10
Water ≤ +3║C pdp (at airline pressure)
Oil ≤ 0.01 mg/m│
Where HACCP shows a high risk factor, use ContactŁ recommendations.

Microbiological Contaminants

The level of microbiological contaminants shall be detected by the method for solid particle detection under ISO 8573-7, this is a method to detect if solid particles contain any viable (living) units.

Measurement and Testing

The testing of the compressed air purity should be identified within the HACCP, normally this would be at least twice a year, and should be in accordance with the guidelines within ISO 8573. All measurements and tests shall be documented and recorded.


The compressed air equipment involved in producing the compressed air to purity levels stated shall be maintained to the level identified by the original equipment manufacturer. It is a requirement under this code that this work is only carried out by qualified personnel.

Best Practice Guidelines

Download food beverage grade compressed air best practice guide 102 from BCAS website

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