FDA IAQ Compliance Requirements In Food Production

During the fall of 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a rule regarding preventive controls of human food. The final rule is part of the legal obligation of the FDA to provide guidelines that align with the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law signed into legislation in early 2011.

According to the FDA, the law is one of the most comprehensive reforms of food safety laws in the last 70 years. Prior to the signing of FSMA, laws were designed to respond to food contamination outbreaks. That has now changed, as the focus shifts more to preventing contamination.

Statistics from 2014 collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that throughout that year, 846 foodborne illnesses were reported, with 13,246 individuals falling ill and 21 fatalities. To help prevent these outbreaks, the FDA’s rule establishes regulations for manufacturers and compliance requirements to ensure food doesn’t become contaminated during the production process. These regulations specifically outline sanitary guidelines, which include air filtration systems.

Food production line.

What is the rule?

Preventive controls of the finalized rule indicate that within a food-processing plant, systems are required to ensure hazards are eliminated or minimized. The FDA stated that this requirement covers food allergens and sanitation controls.

While food manufacturing plants are likely outfitted with air filtration systems, the FDA has imposed compliance deadlines to ensure all aspects of food processing follow the rule and have the proper air filtration systems in place. Small businesses will have two years to comply, very small organizations, defined as, defined as those with less than $1 million in annual revenue, will have three years and every other company must comply in a year of the final rule’s publication.

Role of Air Filters in Food Production

Air filters, specifically HEPA filters, clean out the air when various foods are manufactured. It’s a process a majority of consumers likely don’t think about as they sit down to eat at the dinner table, but it’s one that has a huge effect on the final product.

For example, the process of making yogurt involves the filtration of plant air, according to Michael Bryne, a business and technical manager at EHL Group, a company that specializes in various engineering fields. He stated in a LinkedIn post that yogurt facilities need point-of-use air that is filtered to a sterile level, otherwise the final product may not turn out as intended.

Food processing plant managers and executives will have to ensure their facilities are outfitted with air filtration systems to minimize the risk of food being exposed to contaminants. Since companies will have time to comply with the FDA’s final rule regarding preventive controls for human food, they can contact Air Impurities Removal Systems to find the best filters available to use during the food production process.

Bread Bakers Beware


History of Illness

Dostoevsky said, “There is not a thing more positive than bread.” Both nourishing and comforting, bread offers warmth and security to those who ingest it.” Yet, the safety and wellbeing of those who make it is in jeopardy. Illness associated with milling flour and baking bread was reported as far back as the 1700s when respiratory and allergy-related symptoms were first recorded. Modern-day immunological techniques that measure allergens have identified flour and grain as the root cause of allergic irritation, sensitization, and respiratory illness in bakers worldwide. Despite being the universal ingredient for baked goods, raw flour – when in dust form – is a hazardous substance.

The specific health condition suffered by those who labor in the baking or milling industries goes by numerous monikers. “Baker’s Lung”, “Baker’s Asthma”, and “Baker’s Allergy” are used interchangeably to describe significant respiratory problems suffered by those who are routinely exposed to grain and flour dust. Wheezing, productive coughing, chest tightness, eye and nose irritation can present in anyone who comes in contact with these particulates. In cases of regular occupational exposure, symptoms of chronic respiratory disease are not uncommon – asthma and other lung conditions are the most worrisome.

bread bakery health hazards

Avoiding Exposure

Unfortunately, workers in bakeries and milling facilities cannot avoid exposure as eliminating the source of risk, flour itself, is not an option. But there are ways to protect personnel from the health hazards associated with flour dust. Employees must routinely wear protective equipment (such as facemasks) and clean indoor air quality (IAQ) must be maintained with vigilance. The most successful means of guaranteeing a clean air environment is by controlling particulates via source capture, extraction, and ventilation.

To ensure your workplace has indoor air quality that is healthy for all employees, contact an AIR Systems specialist to evaluate and offer control measures for your clean air vulnerabilities.