Food Processing Valves

The food processing and beverage industries are a complex collection of diverse businesses which come together to supply the world population

The hygienic design of equipment plays an important role in controlling the microbiological safety and quality of the products made. There is an increase in the involvement of regulatory and advisory bodies in the area of hygienic processing and hygienic design.

Valves are essential components of all food and beverage-processing plants, and the quality of the valves used greatly influences the microbiological safety of the food and beverage production process. Valves used by the food and beverage industries can be categorised into two main subcategories: direct contact and utility services. Valves for direct contact use must comply with strict hygienic requirements.

Hence there is a large range of valve types both manual and automated, with the range including to name a few: ball valves, butterfly valves, globe valves, plug valves, angle valves, diverter valves,rotory valves, special design valves etc.


As the name infers, these type of valves come into direct contact with food and drink products, whether it’s milk, soda, condiments or another item that flows through tanks and pipes. Direct contact valves are regulated by international and local regulatory standards from various independent organisations: These valves must be manufactured very carefully to avoid trapping particles of food or products allowing bacteria to collect. Materials used must be inert to both the product and cleaning chemicals whilst also being corrosion resistant and nontoxic. Stainless steel valves are most popular selection for direct contact valves in the food and beverage industries.


The second type of valve commonly used in the food and beverage industries is the so called utility services valve. These valves do not come into direct contact with food and drink products, but rather handle the supply of steam, water, and other non-food and non-beverage resources that are necessary to the preparation, packaging, or transportation of food and drink.


Safety is always a key concern with food processing. Although there are standards and regulations which govern many aspects with food processing, there are not many specific rules and none which are accepted worldwide to deal with the purity and quality of the steam that comes in direct contact with the food or processing which food.

There are essentially three three types of steam used in food processing. Reading the following will make you realise how critical steam is.


The maximum grade of steam would be clean steam, and it's generally raised from purified water at a dedicated clean steam generator. This is the region wherein the foods or drinks are in direct contact with the steam. To make clean steam, a secondary generator with controlled feed water system is utilised. Clean steam demands the use of stainless steel pipework and components that remove the possibility of corrosion of steam traps, valves and pipeline equipment. As in other sanitary process piping systems, a paramount concern in food and drink processing is the need for ease of cleaning. For that reason, the inside of all piping components, such as valves, must be very smooth and free of pockets or cracks that might entrap fluid or debris or be challenging to remove via regular cleaning procedures. This restricts the use of numerous cast components due to their inherent surface roughness. In addition, it requires electro polishing or other procedures to make sure that the flow of steam is free of possible regions of fluid entrapment. Most food contacting valves are made of 316 stainless steel for corrosion resistance, or 316L. A significant difference between overall application valves and those made for food service is the food associated valves have a tendency to be forged or machined out of bar stock, as opposed to cast. It is because cast valves are more inclined to have pores, while forging is more dense with no concealed cavities.


The next level of steam is filtered steam. Filtered steam is utilized in applications used to disinfect the processing system. These are called Clean in Place (CIP), Processes, plus they're employed to ensure the correct level of hygiene in pipes, valves, fittings and related components in the food processing systems themselves. There are mobile products designed especially for CIP. Similar to an electric washer for a vehicle or sidewalk, these systems utilise super heated steam with power nozzles to sanitize and remove hazardous food borne bacteria. Dry vapour steam is the most effective Cleaning solution for foods and beverage facilities as most bacterias can be removed at 160deg F. Some of those systems produce constant warm dry steam which range from 212-240 deg F. Moisture reduction control systems consisting of steam traps and filters are used to maintain the steam as pristine as possible. When additional humidity is necessary in the fluid stream, humidity control systems and valves are all utilised.


Industrial or plant steam is steam's lowest grade. It is the steam which doesn't come into a direct contract with the food or drink product. Put simply, it is utilized in heat exchangers or used for warm water generation, in boiling pans along with other areas.

Softened water, treated water is usually used for plant steam, and is easy on the valve materials and of little concern in terms of corrosion.

The typical valves utilised include globe, gate and check valves, or quarter turn valves so long as their design contains no openings where liquids or debris can accumulate.

Although no hard and fast rules about plant steam substances exist, some foods and beverages makers state any steam products, including pressure regulation valves, which provide steam either directly or indirectly to a drink or a food product has to be made of material sufficiently inert to prevent contamination of the food. For that reason, austenitic stainless steels like 304ss, 316ss or even 316Lss are often used.


While a lot of the valves utilised in food and beverage processing are in steam lines, these are not the only processes which use valves. For instance, cryogenic (or flash freezing) may be done dockside or on enormous fish processing ships. Valves utilised in this procedure must be particularly robust to handle the cryogenic temperatures. Butterfly valves, often with 316 stainless steel bodies, are commonly used to control this flow, and the valve seats are usually metal because it's more durable in these severe conditions.

Poppet valves are utilized for reasonably abrasive products like vegetable oils, and ball valves are used with abrasive products like peanut butter and pigments.

What all this shows is that contemporary food processing couldn't happen without a complete range of valves, actuators and controls, and as processing methods improve, so does the equipment that makes those methods possible.

We have a large range of valve manufacturers who supply to the food processing industries who can meet these demanding conditions.

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