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Surface pasteurization of food packages - understanding the issues, reducing waste and saving energy and water - FT1578

The overall purpose of this project is to investigate the issues that dictate the severity of package surface pasteurisation, primarily for hot-filled foods. A surface pasteurisation measurement tool (based on Time –Temperature Integrators (TTIs)) is now available and will be used to measure surface processes. Without this means of taking surface measurements it is not possible to optimise the processing, filling and post-process handling operations.

Most hot fill surface processes are thought to be excessive and it is the intention of this project to quantify by how much. Either the severity of the applied time-temperature regime can be reduced or certain process steps such as post-filling pasteurisation tunnels can be minimised or even eliminated. Figures 1 and 2 show some examples of typical post-filling pasteurisation equipment, illustrating the scale and complexity of the process equipment. For example, it is common to cook acidified sauces in steam jacketed vessels to 95°C, fill at >90°C into glass jars, which are then capped and given a ‘top-up’ pasteurisation for 5-10 minutes at 95°C in a raining water tunnel. Minimising the needs for the tunnel pasteurisation has potential to save energy, water and increase line efficiency.

The expected outcome is a better understanding of how to reduce the microorganism contamination on packaging so that less energy is required to effect the package surface pasteurisation. This may be achieved by routes such as increasing fill temperature so the hot product contains sufficient energy, pre-heating packages to reduce surface temperature loss at the food-packaging interface, better control of package inversion, steam closure of packages, or pasteurising the packs pre-filling.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2011

To: 2014

Cost: £320,416
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Princes Ltd, New Covent Garden Soup Company, Hazelwood Sauces & Pickles, Unilever, University - Birmingham, Kerry Ingredients, Campden Technology Ltd, Britvic Soft Drinks Ltd, Campden BRI, British Pepper and Spice, H J Heinz Company Limited, Waitrose Ltd
Fields of Study
Resource Efficient and Resilient Food Chain