Hygiene standards within the food manufacturing industry have been a hot topic as of late and as each news headline brings with it a wrath of fines and warnings, a growing importance has been placed on the cleanliness of systems used within food processing plants.
Chlorine and Quat based products have been widely used within the industry for many years, largely because these chemicals are inexpensive compared to other compounds.
Yet a less commonly used product, stabilised peroxide, has appeared on the scene, sparking debate amongst food manufacturers and processors as to whether the chemical is a worthy opponent to the reliable, commonly used Chlorine.
Paul Abbott, senior water treatment consultant at Hydrochem UK, has worked with many food manufacturers to transfer their chlorine-reliant systems over to stabilised peroxide and feels the industry needs to be open to change.
He said: “Stabilised peroxide is dosed into the water that supplies the food processing facility, effectively helping to control legionella, listeria, and even cryptosporidium, which Chlorine isn’t very effective on. It can even be used as a direct replacement for Chlorine or Quats as a leave in place sanitizer.
“Many food manufacturers have looked at stabilised peroxide, but haven’t wanted to touch it purely because of the jump in cost.
“Yes, the stabilised peroxide chemical is more expensive than the chlorine chemical, but what is rarely explored is the abundance of long term benefits that come with using the chemical.”
“For processing factories that use Chlorine, its use needs to be monitored very carefully. As well as the fact that exposure to its dangerous fumes can cause asthma, and the by-products it releases have been connected to cancer, one of its biggest downfalls is that it is very corrosive at working strength, which causes a lot of wear and tear on processing plants and equipment. It also leaves a taint and taste, which in the food and beverage industry isn’t acceptable.”
“A lot of plants use steel pipe work and chlorine is very corrosive on stainless steel. The lost time and expense associated with repairing and replacing equipment, as well as the lost production time, are to be considered.
“Stabilised peroxide on the other hand is non-corrosive at working strength, so equipment maintenance costs are significantly lower.
“Even larger savings can be made if a UV system is combined with stabilised peroxide. Exposing water to the correct amount of UV light can lead to savings of up to 85% on peroxide costs too, which makes using the chemical even more attractive.
“When looking at the costs, it’s so much more than just the initial price of buying the chemical, it’s the saving you make in the long term. Stabilised peroxide also brings with it a wealth of other benefits.
“Food manufacturers we have worked with to convert their systems have experienced a major reduction in bacterial fails taken during routine quality sampling on the water system. In a food factory, less fails means less lost time, which means more productivity and more profit.
“In a time where the reputation of the food processing industry has been damaged by a small number of hygiene and safety breaches, without sounding cheesy it’s really important for processors to strengthen their processes.
“The use of stabilised peroxide elevates sites to a higher standard. For a site to reach gold standard and be the best of the best, auditors need to see that hygiene levels are superior and that significant effort to lower the environmental impact is made.
“Stabilised Peroxide is a lot more environmentally friendly than chlorine and the amount of harmful residual chemicals within products is going to be drastically reduced with its use. It also releases no harmful chemicals and is safe to handle.
"This will help companies to win more new contracts as they will be recognised as a cleaner, more environmentally friendly site.
“So when you put everything in to perspective, it works out both cheaper and safer for food manufacturers to swap to stabilised peroxide."