Banish starch dust with electrostatics

Starch powder dust on cheese processing lines can now be almost eradicated thanks to the use of electrostatic technology.

The technique, developed Oxfordshire-based Spice Application Systems (SAS), dramatically cuts the amount of powder in the air during the application process and at the same time delivers 100% product coating.

Electrostatics are already widely used in other food manufacturing industries, including snacks, confectionery, cereals and frozen foods, but this is the first time the system has been launched into the cheese processing arena.

Peter King, managing director of SAS, explains:  “The problem of dust from starch powders in cheese factories is well known, but by harnessing the power of electrostatics we can ensure the powder sticks to the products and doesn’t escape into the surrounding atmosphere.

“Not only does that mean a much cleaner working environment, but it allows pinpoint accuracy in the amounts of powder used, reduces wastage and increases efficiency because far less downtime is needed for cleaning.

“Electrostatics have been extremely successful in other food sectors and by fine tuning our on-head spray equipment, we’re now able to offer the same benefits to cheese processors.”

Using electrostatics means a static charge is applied to powders as they are being sprayed within a drum.  The powder becomes ‘negatively’ charged, and adheres automatically to the ‘positive’ base product – in this case cheese – creating a true wraparound effect.

In addition, because the equipment can be retrofitted onto existing drums and production lines, it provides a cost efficient approach to upgrading production facilities.

The technique will be particularly suitable for sliced and grated cheeses, sold both in packets and for application on tabletop favourites such as pizzas and cheesy breads.