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How to Select an Aseptic Sampler for Food Production

Posted by John Powalisz on 3/29/17 10:30 AM
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How to Select an Aseptic Sampler for Food Production

In the food industry, aseptic equipment is vital to ensure food safety. That equipment includes aseptic samplers. These are used by quality control personnel to easily and safely sample liquids from closed systems such as food and beverage process lines and vessels. 

What is Aseptic?

The definition of aseptic is “free from the living germs of disease, fermentation, or putrefaction or protection against pathogenic microorganisms.” Aseptic sampling equipment is used in food processing to reduce the likelihood of contamination from harmful pathogens mainly from microorganisms, during sampling.

Contamination risk in food production comes from using incorrect samplers or using samplers incorrectly. Therefore, it’s critical to choose the right aseptic sampler to prevent contamination and ensure food safety.

Design Determines Effectiveness

Aseptic sampler selection starts with the design, which determines the effectiveness in preventing contamination as well as ease of use. An aseptic sampler consists of the body, an actuator and a stem with a sealing element that seals at the process connection.

The sealing element, which is either a diaphragm or a bellows, is a critical part of the sampler. Seals made of softer material such as ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) can move over the complete area of the seal. This can cause dead spaces and infiltration of the seal by the food product which leads to contamination.

The best aseptic samplers use a bellows made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) as the sealing element. The PTFE bellows has many advantages. The PTFE’s slippery surface guarantees optimum clean-ability as no product can stick to the bellows. Another reason is the elasticity. The PTFE bellows is only moving at one point, the fold itself. Superior to common metal bellows design, the low-adhesive, long-life PTFE bellows provides one-piece sealing that’s resistant to nearly any product. The cost of replacement of a PTFE bellows is considerably less compared to a metal bellows. Also, PTFE bellows can be changed without special tools to simplify maintenance and reduce downtime.

Select a No Dead Space Design

The design of the sampler body is important to preventing contamination, too. It affects how well the sampler seals, drains and cleans via clean-in-place (CIP) and sterilization-in-place (SIP) methods. The body of a sampler with a one-piece, dead space free design made from a solid billet of 316L stainless steel provides hermetic sealing against the environment in combination with the PTFE bellows to eliminate process contamination.

The dead space is where food debris can collect and contaminate the process. The lack of dead space also makes the sampler drain completely and easier to clean. A dead space free design also allows food products to flow gently through the sampler to preserve the product sample quality.

Following the selection guidance above can help you select the best aseptic sampler for your food production application to avoid contamination and ensure food safety.

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Written by John Powalisz

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John Powalisz, Director of International Sales, is dedicated to sharing his technical expertise and knowledge of sampling equipment and systems in power plants, refineries, chemical and food processing facilities garnered from more than 19 years with the company. John has worked with clients worldwide to help them to comply with regulations and optimize processes by applying proper sampling hardware and techniques. While he is well-versed in all Sentry products and applications, he is particularly focused on the food and beverage and power generation markets as well as emerging market development.