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Navigating the 3-A Culinary Steam Guideline

Accepted Practice 609-03 

609-03 Steam is often injected into food products or used to clean and sterilize equipment. In these instances, the steam is required to be Culinary Steam. The 3-A organization defines culinary grade steam as ...steam that is free of entrained contaminants, is relatively free of water in liquid form and is suitable for use in direct contact with food products, other comestibles, or product contact surfaces. 3-A has put forth Accepted Practice 609-03 for the production of culinary grade steam which ensures both producers and consumers are protected by safe, clean, and consistent quality steam.

Key Filtration Requirements for Meeting 3-A Culinary Steam Guidelines
Boiler Feed Water
  • Guideline: 3-A requires the use of safe boiler feed water. Feed water consists of both returned condensate and fresh make-up water, and should be filtered. Any contaminant in the feed water can be introduced into the steam distribution system. This includes pipe scale, sludge and debris from mechanical devices, as well as organic matter, sediment, and other suspended solids. Clean water produces clean steam and helps maintain high boiler efficiency.

  • Solution: Donaldson P-FG liquid filter housings and P-GSL N filter elements are designed to handle the high temperatures and solids loads associated with feed water filtration. 
Entrainment Separator
  • Guideline: 3-A requires the use of an entrainment separator upstream of the culinary steam filter.

  • Solution: The Donaldson P-EG housing and P-GS 25 micron filter element will separate the condensate from the steam, and lengthen the service life of the culinary filter. This pre-filter removes larger contaminant, ensuring that the culinary steam filter doesn’t clog prematurely. 
Culinary Grade Filter Elements
  • Guideline: According to 3-A, a culinary steam element must be 95% efficient at 2 microns and larger.

  • Solution: Donaldson’s 5 micron P-GS and P-GSL N elements meet this standard. 
Culinary Grade Filter Housing
  • Guideline: 3-A provides guidelines for equipment fabrication. Filter housings must be designed out of 300 series stainless steel and readily accessible for cleaning and inspection. The housing should be sanitary in design with blended welds, high polish surface finish, and ease of assembly/disassembly for cleaning and inspection.

  • Solution: Donaldson's PG-EG housing is designed in accordance with and certified by 3-A as a sanitary filter housing. 
Filter Housing
  • Guideline: 3-A requires that the installation has a method of measuring the pressure drop across the filter element and housing.

  • Solution: In order to know when to change the filter element, there should be pressure gauges installed upstream and downstream of the P-GS steam filter element. The gauges monitor the process conditions, system faults, and disruptions. As the filter element loads with contaminant, the differential pressure will increase. Donaldson steam filters can be cleaned and regenerated using an ultrasonic bath up to six times within a year. 

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