The food and beverage industry includes a wide range of products categories, from milk and dairy to bread and baked goods. Thus, an infinite array of media needs to be processed; having a sense of what you need to process these media is of the utmost significance. Valves are important elements of all food and beverage processing plants. The choice of valve majorly depends on the nature of the food and beverage material. Therefore, knowing the properties of the media, you will be processing is crucial in finding a suitable valve for your needs. Besides the nature of the material, there are many aspects to take into consideration. The valves are also selected according to the temperature, pressure, viscosity, and elements they will be exposed to. To achieve the desired results and ensure safe food and beverage processing requires using the top-quality valves available on the market.
The quality of the valves greatly influences the microbiological safety and quality of products in the food and beverage production process. Valves utilized by the food and beverage industries can be classified into two sub-classes:
- Direct contact valves
- Utility services valves
Direct contact valves
As the name indicates, direct valves are those which directly come in contact with food or beverage materials, whether milk, drinks or any other thing. Direct contact valves must adhere to strict hygienic conditions to prevent any microbial contamination. These valves are regulated by national and international regulatory standards from various independent organizations such as FDA. These valves are manufactured very carefully to avoid entrapment of food and products particles allowing microorganisms to accumulate. The materials used in valves should be inert or non-reactive to both the product and cleaning substances. Moreover, the valves must also be corrosion-resistant and nontoxic. Generally, stainless steel is ideal for manufacturing direct contact valves for the food and beverage industry.
Utility service valves
Utility service valves are also frequently used in the food and beverage industry. These types of valves do not directly come in contact with food and drink products. Instead, they regulate the supply of steam, water, and other non-food and non-beverage materials that are essential to the preparation, packaging, or transportation of food and beverages. Although they do not contact with food and beverage products, these valves must also comply with hygienic standards.
Sanitary valves for the food and beverage industry
As the name refers, the sanitary valve is a type of valve that fulfills specific health and safety standards for applications in the food and beverage industry. These sterile valves are essential to maintain the purity of the consumable food products that flow through them. Typically, the body is built with stainless steel, especially SUS304, and 316L, that meets high health standards. Brass and plastic are also acceptable, but stainless steel is preferred the most. Sanitary valves must not have any cavities and crevices to avoid bacterial growth. All components that are likely to contact the fluid, gas, or slurry are mirror polished. Moreover, the degree of polishing and cleanliness should also satisfy the health standards defined by its industrial function.
Mechanical sealing requirements for Sanitary valves
Sanitary valves must meet the following mechanical sealing requirements:
- Must have capability of in-situ cleaning and in-situ disinfection
- Must provide a smooth flow with no accumulation of materials
- Must meet GMP standards
- Must have a system to prevent material leakage from the sealing surface.
Purpose of sanitary valves
In the food and beverage industry, sanitary valves are used in connecting and controlling conveyance pipes. They maintain the purity, stability, and quality of fluids during conveyance due to stainless steel construction. In addition, sanitary valves are easy to disinfect and clean in order to keep them tidy.
Types of sanitary valves
There are several kinds of sanitary valves suitable for applications in the food and beverage industry, which includes:
- Sanitary ball valves
- Sanitary globe valves
- Sanitary diaphragm valves
- Sanitary solenoid valves
- Sanitary pinch valves
- Sanitary knife valves
- Sanitary butterfly valves
However, the most commonly used among them are solenoid and ball sanitary valves.
Solenoid sanitary valves
Sanitary solenoid valves are perfect for food processing because they are made of stainless steel and designed to work in humid and corrosive conditions. They are common in the meat industry, fruit and vegetable canneries, salting systems, fish canneries, and ready meal industries.
Sanitary ball valves
Due to high rangeability and reliability, ball valves are preferred in the beverage industry. The regulating element of the ball valve is less complex than butterfly or globe valves.