Should you use dehumidifiers in snack food industry?

Snack Food Industry

In the Processed Food Industry – certain foods are more prone to Humidity damage than others. Quick eat snacks are one such., Snack foods are defined as meals between meals, consumed for taste value rather than nutritive value

Hence these processed foods, have emphasis on taste enhancement, and utilise techniques like Frying, Baking, Sugar coatings, etc – all these processes add to taste, but also make it important to ensure controlled environments in Food Packing areas to avoid ingress into packing & reaction with foods

Few aspects of Snack foods, where humidity control is important
Crunch: Would you love your snacks if it were not crunchy & tasty. Crunch adds an additional dimension to food, that can often get subdued by presence of moisture. If Humidity is not checked at time of processing & packing – later during the time between Factory to Customer, it is possible for it to become soggy and lose its intended texture

Rancidity: Snack foods are usually made with oil, and its common for fatty acids to react with oxygen and result in a condition often called Rancidity, in which undesirable flavours develop. Installing a Dehumidifier may reduce, but not fully eliminate issues faced here as the key issue is oxidation, not moisture

Sugar Bloom: Sugar coated foods, including chocolates and toffee run the risk of developing a white less appealing coating over their surface. While this is safe to eat from a food safety angle – there are concerns & misconceptions in consumers. Maintaining range bound moisture can definitely help in improved product shelf life

Agglomeration: Moisture can result in foods sticking with each other. Imagine a candy like Cadbury Gems all stuck as a lump when you open a fresh packet. This would be a definite No no from a customer perspective. Also, certain flavors & premixes require RH control to ensure they do not clump together as an agglomerate which reduces efficiency of machinery & result in bad production

Bacterial degradation: This is the single biggest reason, why Dehumidifiers are used in Food industry. All foods, being a base made of carbohydrates, proteins and fats which if exposed to moisture start hydrolysing food and create a base on which bacteria / fungi can slowly to grow upon. Certiain anaerobic bacteria continues to grow even in absence of oxygen, during product shelf life. These food safety hazards can risk customers health apart from dire consequences such as cancellation of manufacturers licence, incase of large scale food safety issues

Maintaining a Dry atmosphere in processing & packing areas with Centralised or Portable Dehumidifiers is a sure way to reduce this risk. Coupled with Quality control and Packaging technology, you can ensure product is always safe & healthy

Areas where Dehumidifiers can be installed

  • Food R&D labs
  • Packaging sections
  • Raw material stores
  • Chocolate, Bakery & Patisserie
  • Catering & food service

A controlled environment approach is essential where Relative Humidity is controlled within desired range of 40% RH to 60% RH, along with Temperature, CO2, Ventilation & Sterility are controlled measured & maintained. Modified Atmosphere Packaging such as Nitrogen flush packing is also a good approach

Published by

Sudhir Damodara

Sudhir is a HVAC professional (Member of ISHRAE, ASHRAE & PMI) whose interest are Humidity control & Indoor Air Quality. He has worked with several companies to evaluate issues faced by them & suggest optimal solutions. He also speaks at various technical forums on Humidity control strategies & latest developments in the field of Indoor Air Quality