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Revolutionising Food Production Hygiene: The Benefits of Dry Steam Cleaning

Cleaning and hygiene standards within the food and drink industry are extremely multifaceted and demanding. Companies must adhere to the strictest hygiene and cleanliness criteria to be HACCP compliant, while cleaning and sanitising in ‘dry’ environments and other ambient food production areas all carry their own different risk factors. 

A warm, dry production plant, provides an ideal breeding ground for insects such as moths and beetles, but also microorganisms, invisible to the human eye. Historically these environments, including production lines and conveyor belts, have been manually cleaned, using conventional cleaning products. The irony then, that a water-based technology could be the ideal tool within these environments, may be somewhat surprising.

How dry steam sanitises food production environments

The functionality of dry steam relies on the synergy between heat and the low-pressure physical steam action, which instantly dissolves grease and dirt, even in normally inaccessible areas. It’s also extremely environmentally friendly – 1litre of water converts to 1,600litres of high-quality steam, using an average of only 2litres of water during a one-hour operation (for a 230V steam machine). 

Hand tool cleaning

Heat ensures that the bonding between dirt and surface is broken down, while the heat of steam results in the instant dissolving of grease, grime and dirt. When steam touches a cold surface it expands explosively, loosening dirt, grease and grime, instantly suspending all debris including bacteria, spores and other undesirable microorganisms ready for removal. 

Minimal tooling is needed beyond a mobile steam machine; a simple detail nozzle on the end of a hose enables them to be used for a wide variety of cleaning tasks when not connected to a stationary belt sanitation unit, making them a truly versatile cleaning unit. Physical action is achieved via low pressure steam spray at 4-10 bar, in combination with gentle agitation by the operator to remove any additional soiling and break down any biofilms. 

After cleaning, any residual moisture and/or soiling that remains on surfaces is simply wiped away, vacuumed or allowed to fall onto the floor for removal by another method.

To some the term ‘dry steam’ may sound like a contradiction, as steam is a byproduct of water and therefore cannot be dry – this is true of conventional steam, but by super heating the water up to 180°C, any remaining water is vapourised and the steam becomes ‘dry’ with very little residual moisture. This dry steam is ideal for use in both wet and dry environments alike, giving unrivalled cleaning and sanitation capability.

Increasing belt sanitation efficiency with specialist products

Dry steam as a cleaning tool is much less aggressive than other more commonly employed sanitation procedures which in turn means equipment lasts longer and operates more reliably, delivering long term cost savings.

When used in conjunction with a specialised fixed cleaning system, like a Belt Sanitation Unit (BSU), dry steam can be utilised on any type of production line/ conveyor belt without risk of surface damage or risk to electrical or electronic components. Working directly with a range of food processors and producers, from High Care to Low Care, ambient dried food producers. 

Belt Sanitation Unit cleaning a feed belt

The technology has been proven to not only eradicate product residue, but also remove the biofilm of allergens, germs and other contaminants – all without the use of any harsh chemical substances. It is highly efficient and a cost-effective means of achieving high standards of sanitation. Supplied as a mobile unit or housed within a stationary cabinet, this versatile solution allows equipment and machinery to be deep-cleaned in situ, offering increased performance and reduced downtime during product changeovers.

Scientifically validated, proven in practice

We remain the first and only company to have conducted a full scientific study to measure the efficacy of dry steam. Our technology was initially tested within hospital environments and validated by the independent research facility TNO. These findings were applied to other market sectors, most notably the food processing and food manufacturing industries. Working closely with Campden BRI, has meant that our dry steam technology is validated for the positive removal of allergens from surfaces.

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