Food Processing

Dust Collection and Removal of Other Constituents for the Food Processing Industry 

Dust collection in the food processing industry can be critical for maintaining product quality, ensuring worker safety, and complying with regulatory standards. 

The food processing industry is a broad category encompassing a wide range of activities, from the initial handling, preparation, and storage of raw ingredients to complex manufacturing processes, final food preparation, and packaging. Various types of dust are produced in this domain, such as grain and flour dust, corn starch, powdered starches, nuts and legumes residue, dehydrated milk, egg products, sugar, cocoa, spices, flavors, additives, etc. 

Fresh bread on trays before baking in the oven at the bakery.In addition, the exhaust gases from the manufacturing process food preparation equipment can produce odors, particulate matter in the form of aerosol (i.e., liquid droplets, oil droplets, etc.), and/or other constituents such as VOCs. In these cases, a wet scrubber may be needed.

Effective dust control in food processing is paramount for food safety and worker well-being. Unchecked food dust can lead to sanitation problems, cross-contamination, microbial hazards, employee health risks, slip-and-fall accidents, and even a fire or explosion. Compliance with strict food safety regulations by the FDA and USDA and occupational safety standards by OSHA. Compliance with NFPA is also needed to meet fire and safety requirements.

In the U.S., there are thousands of food processing facilities, ranging from small bakeries to large plants with substantial workforces, each with unique dust control needs. Customized dust and/or constituent removal strategies utilizing dry or wet dust collection, tailored to specific dust types, contaminants, processes, and facility settings, are essential for addressing the diverse hazards and operational environments in food processing.

Collaborating with an engineering partner capable of designing a comprehensive solution incorporating ventilation, containment, and collection systems is key for ensuring a safe and compliant work environment.

Dust Collection Challenges 

Dust collection in the food processing sector presents several unique challenges, including a variety of dust types, combustibility and explosion risk, hygiene and sanitation requirements, cross-contamination prevention, moisture and humidity, and regulatory compliance. The specific risks and challenges vary based on the ingredients and methods employed. 

Although the dust generated by the food industry is generally non-toxic since these products are meant for consumption, the significance of dust control or other mitigation should be considered.

Protective Measures for Dust Collection in Food Processing: Safeguarding Health and Preventing Explosions

Dust collection equipment plays a crucial role in the food processing industry by managing various types of dust, including grain flours, powdered milk, starches, sugar, cocoa powder, and spices. These substances, known for their combustible nature, require careful design considerations to prevent potential explosions. Solutions may include venting, suppression, flameless venting, and isolation.

Regarding health risks, while staple ingredients like grains and potatoes pose minimal hazards, certain additives and spices used in food processing can be harmful upon prolonged inhalation exposure. For instance, diacetyl, a common butter-flavoring component, is linked to lung disease. Moreover, chemical additives and flavorings can lead to lung irritation, mucus membrane issues, and skin problems. Cinnamon, containing volatile oils, is a prime example. It triggers asthma and skin and eye irritation, necessitating special handling precautions during processing to safeguard workers’ well-being.

These systems ensure operational safety, workers’ health, and property protection by implementing explosion protection and addressing health risks associated with specific ingredients and additives.

Dust Control Solutions for Your Food Processing Operation 

Customized dust collection or other mitigation solutions are crucial for food processing facilities, as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Our expert engineers assess your operations to recommend the perfect dust collector, filter media, and/or wet scrubber. 

Here is a detailed look at how dust collectors and wet scrubbers are used:

Dust Collectors

Dust collectors are used to remove particulate matter (dust, powders, and other airborne particles) generated during various food processing activities such as the following:

  1. Ingredient Handling: During the handling, mixing, and grinding of dry ingredients like flour, sugar, spices, and grains, a significant amount of dust is produced. Dust collectors capture this dust to prevent contaminating the workspace and products.
  2. Packaging: The packaging of powdered or granular food products can generate dust. Dust collectors help maintain a clean environment and ensure the packaging area complies with hygiene standards.
  3. Processing Areas: Areas where food products are chopped, blended, or otherwise processed can create dust. Dust collectors prevent dust accumulation on equipment and surfaces, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.


  • Baghouse Collectors: Use fabric filter bags to capture dust particles. They are suitable for handling large volumes of dust.
  • Cartridge Collectors: Use pleated filter cartridges, which provide a large surface area for dust collection and are efficient in smaller spaces.
  • Cyclone Collectors: Utilize centrifugal force to separate dust particles from the air. They are often used as pre-filters for more fine-tuned dust collection systems.

Wet Scrubbers

Wet scrubbers capture fine particulates, gases, and vapors by passing contaminated air through a scrubbing liquid, typically water or a chemical solution.


  1. Odor Control: In processes that generate strong odors (e.g., meat processing, fish handling), wet scrubbers can remove or neutralize these odors, improving air quality.
  2. Dust Suppression: In areas where dust particles are very fine or where dry dust collection might pose a risk (such as explosive dust), wet scrubbers can efficiently capture these particles.


  • Venturi Scrubbers: Use a high-velocity water jet to atomize the scrubbing liquid and capture fine particulates and gases. They are effective for high-dust-load applications.
  • Packed Bed Scrubbers: Contain a packed bed of material that provides a large surface area for the scrubbing liquid to contact the contaminated air. These are often used for gas absorption and odor control.
  • Impinjet Wet Scrubbers: Sly Impinjet® Wet Gas Scrubbers collect particulates and absorb vapors and gases. The gas passes up through the openings in the perforated plates (trays) holding a liquid bed. The secret is in the scrubber’s design, which uses an impingement baffle above each hole.

Sly is your partner in complying with OSHA and NFPA regulations for managing combustible dust. We establish dust control measures to reduce the likelihood of a combustible dust explosion in food processing environments. Our seasoned air quality engineers guide you through every step, from initial assessment to system design, installation, filter selection, HVAC integration, and ongoing maintenance.