Aseptic bottling is essential for food safety

Nowadays, food should be as fresh as possible and as untreated as possible: this is what consumers are looking for at the point of sale. The the trend towards natural food This means that producers, renouncing the use of preservatives and high temperatures to extend shelf life, must meet particularly high hygienic standards in production.

Asepsis thanks to a sterile environment for food

Aseptic cold filling of plastic bottles or cardboard beverage containers worldwide is considered the ruling discipline in this field; It is the process of commercial and sterile filling of beverages or food in a sterile facility for food use.

All production takes place in a low-germ environment, where food and packaging media are sterilized separately and combined under aseptic conditions. Especially for sensitive products, which have low self-protection against the growth of microorganisms, a sterile environment is necessary for aseptic filling. Ensuring these conditions is not an easy task for producers, because in addition to technological aspects, associated costs also play an important role in the investment decision.

Minimizing the critical area

It must be ensured that there is an area in which sterile conditions are maintained around the areas of the production facilities that come into contact with the product. In order to increase the safety of cold aseptic filling and its profitability, machine manufacturers have one main goal: to make the critical areas of contact with the product as small and simple as possible.

The more complex the filling system, the more difficult and expensive it will be to keep it permanently aseptic. However, sterile chambers are not applicable for all aseptic systems. In some cases, an aseptic zone is used, which is maintained under aseptic conditions by a positive displacement flow of sterile air.

Pathways to sterilization

Prerequisites for aseptic conditions are easy-to-clean design and effective cleaning of equipment, apparatus, devices and components, as well as the process environment, if contact with the product is established. Furthermore, sterilization must be maintained throughout the production period.

The same requirements must be met by packaging materials and auxiliary packaging materials. That is, they must be able to be cleaned and sterilized, as well as sterilely filled. Depending on the packaging, aseptic facilities can use different procedures: sterilization with hydrogen peroxide (dry asepsis) or peracetic acid (wet asepsis).

Sometimes both procedures can be combined. Container sterilization can also be done with preforms. Another method is pulsed light sterilization, which follows this principle: a high-intensity beam acts on the surfaces of containers and lids for about 0.3 seconds and effectively sterilizes them.

Minimal processing is the key term under which Anuga FoodTec will assemble the necessary procedures and equipment for this at the Cologne exhibition center from March 20 to 23, 2018.

Source: Anuga FoodTec.

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