Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a gas that has high potential for destruction of microorganisms and other food borne infectious vectors. Modern controlled atmosphere storage and packing technology which has become industry standard for extending the life of perishable foods is based on the ability of CO2 to prevent microbial growth, especially at lower refrigeration temperatures. It is being touted as a safer fumigant material to preserve stored grains without leaving any toxic residue in the product unlike dangerous like ethylene dibromide, methyl bromide, ethyl formate etc. CO2 is the life line for the soft drinks industry where it plays a dual role of providing sensory satisfaction and as well as product preservation. The property of CO2 to be solidified under pressure is made use of for its use as "dry ice" for many applications and dry ice sublimes directly to gaseous mode under ambient conditions. It is available in plenty as a by-product from the alcohol fermentation industry and hence can be a low cost processing aid for the food industry,
One of the most challenging tasks facing food processors is to deliver their products in prime condition to the consumer without any compromise on quality or safety. This challenge can be met only if the industry can maintain hygiene standards and cleanliness that will not allow growth of microorganisms in the manufacturing environment. This is especially true when it comes to various equipment and gadgets utilized in this industry which must be perfectly clean in order to maximize the production capacity with least shut down for maintenance. Cleaning methods like wire brushes, sand blasting, solvents and high pressure are routinely used but have their own limitations. Many chemicals and sanitizing agents are recommended and though some of them are effective the cost, efficiency and time taken to complete the operation call for more desirable alternatives.
Recent development of a technology using dry ice appears to be answering the the call for an ideal sanitizing technique acceptable to all sectors of food industry. Dry ice blasting is a relatively easy and effective method that uses harmless dry ice pellets to clean up the facilities and leave them dry. It will be preferred by many in food and beverage industry because of many inherent advantages compared to other known techniques. In this process, dry ice pellets can get to all parts of equipments which are difficult to reach by other methods, since dry ice pellets manage to reach every nook and corner of the equipments cleaning more deeply and effectively. Besides CO2 blasting efficiently removes adhesive, carbon build-up, grease, paper dust, and glue from various equipments such as:conveyors, ovens, chocolate molds, filters, mixing equipment, slicing gadgets, frying and similar processing equipment, bread and pastry machinery, waffle irons, etc. Its non-abrasive form of cleaning does not damage the machinery as the pellets will sublimates and turn to gaseous state the moment it comes in hits the solid surface.
Already CO2 blasting is used for various industries such as printing, aerospace, automotive, packaging etc. Another reason why dry ice blasting is the ideal choice for food industry is that it doesn't involve the use of water in its cleaning process. This is useful especially when the equipment are sensitive to water. CO2 is known to destroy and retard the growth of fungus and bacteria such as salmonella and listeria, as at -109F all of them perish instantly.The positive pressure at which the pellets hit the surface and simultaneous generation a gas removes all loose as well as adhering materials from the machinery leaving them clean and safe. It could be an additional advantage as traces of many foods can be allergenic to some consumers and removing these residues cuts down such incidences of cross contamination from one processed material to the next one. Dry ice blasting is expected to reduce the overall cost of maintenance as it eliminates the need to dispose of extra waste, transportation of equipments to other sites and reduces the production downtime and overall cleaning time. In countries where dry ice availability is not a constraint, dry ice sanitizing technology is ideally suited to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of food processing industry, striving to avoid food contamination episodes and expensive market recalls.