Are you in charge of operations for a food and beverage manufacturer? Do you oversee the pasteurization process of a particular foodstuff? If the answer is yes, then, surely you’re on the look out for ways to improve the process your company is already using.
As anyone in the industry knows, proper pasteurization is extremely important. Right behind this number one concern is the need to have the best pasteurization process in place given the food you’re processing. Using equipment that can make the procedure fast, efficient and, most importantly, effective is necessary.
This is where tunnel pasteurizers can help. Before delving into how tunnel pasteurizers can be a part of your manufacturing system, let’s look at the definition of pasteurization, it’s benefits and what should be pasteurized.
What is Pasteurization?
Invented in 1863 by French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur, pasteurization is a food preservation method that uses heat to kill pathogenic bacteria. With Pasteur’s method, moderately high temperatures, 62°C to 100°C (143.6°F to 212°F), are applied for 15 to 30 minutes in order to kill certain microorganisms and render certain enzymes inactive.
Food can become contaminated after having been pasteurized. Thus, all pasteurized products still need refrigeration after being exposed to air because all types of pathogens aren’t destroyed at these moderately high temperatures. Pasteurization was originally developed for wine.
In addition to heat-processing, food products can be pasteurized by being irradiated by gamma rays. Gamma irradiation doesn’t make food radioactive.
There are three common types of pasteurization processes:
- This process a high-temperature, short-time treatment (HTST).
- It’s often used for liquids that can be poured, such as milk and juice.
- These liquids are heated to high temperatures, 161°F (72°C), for 3 to 15 seconds, which is a temperature that destroys harmful micro-organisms quickly. After heating, the item is cooled and packaged.
- Drink boxes and pouches are subjected to this form of pasteurization method. because it permits an extended period of unrefrigerated storage while keeping the product safe.
- This method is used on mainly on beef. In this process newly-slaughtered beef carcasses are inspected, washed and trimmed. Then the carcasses are sent through a process where they’re exposed to pressurized steam for six to eight seconds. The steam raises the temperature on the surface of the carcasses to 190°F to 200°F (88° to 93°C). The carcasses are then cooled with a cold-water spray.
- This technology effectively reduces pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria.
- This process is used on approximately 50% of beef in the US.
- This process used radiant energy waves, gamma rays, on various types of food.
- Raw meat is subjected to small amounts of gamma rays to control parasitic foodborne pathogens.
- It’s often used on fruits and vegetables to control vegetative bacteria and slow ripening.
- It’s applied to cereal and spices to treat the foodstuff against insects.
Benefits of Pasteurization
The benefits of pasteurization are many:
- Pasteurization kills harmful microorganisms and pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria.
- Helps reduce the spread of many debilitating diseases, such as dysentery, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, polio and tuberculosis.
- It controls vegetative bacteria.
- The process destroys certain parasitic foodborne pathogens and controls others.
- It improves the quality of certain foods, such as milk and milk products.
- Pasteurization keeps food from spoiling quickly.
- It increases the shelf life of foods.
- It extended the length of time certain foods can remain outside the refrigerator.
The Disadvantages of Pasteurization
However wonderful pasteurization is, it still has some disadvantages.
- The process doesn’t kill all microorganisms, pathogenic bacteria and harmful enzymes.
- Foods can still become contaminated after the process.
- Pasteurization can negatively affect the flavor, color and texture of the food or beverage.
- It can negatively affect the nutrient composition of foods.
What are Some Foods that are Pasteurized?
The number of foods that are pasteurized exceed those that aren’t. Some of the foods are:
- Liquids: Milk, cream, salad dressing, water, juice, wine and beer
- Particulates: Stew and soup, baby food, yogurt, canned goods and eggs
- Red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and lamb
- Some fruits, vegetables and spices are subjected to minute quantities of gamma radiation.
What are Tunnel Pasteurizers?
A tunnel pasteurizer is a large chamber or cabinet made of stainless steel. They can come in a range of sizes and dimensions with technical specifications to suit the particular type of food or beverage they’re to treat.
The Process of Tunnel Pasteurization
- Once bottles are filled with a food or beverage product and closed, they’re sent on a conveyor belt from one side of the chamber to the other.
- Within the tunnel, they are subjected to the actual pasteurization process in order to inhibit the enzymes that encourage spoilage and control pathogenic microorganisms.
- They pass under sprays of hot water, sit in a hot water bath or are subjected to steam.
- The bottles undergo increasingly hot water temperatures until they reach pasteurization temperature.
- The bottles continue on until they reach the other side of the chamber. There, they’re cooled with cold water that is about 20°C (68°F).
How Tunnel Pasteurizers Can Benefit the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Process
A tunnel pasteurization system can easily fit into your manufacturing process. Once a food or beverage product is jarred, bottled, canned and sealed up, it’s run through the tunnel pasteurizer system; and that’s it. The process is over.
End Point Technology
The tunnel pasteurization process can be one of the last stops of your manufacturing process. It’s often called an “end point” pasteurization technology because it destroys harmful bacteria, enzymes and micro-organisms from food and beverages just before they go to the consumer.
Easy to Operate and Reliable
Tunnel pasteurizers provide an simple and easy alternative to flash pasteurization and sterile filtration. The process is easy to operate and reliable. Tunnel pasteurization is one of the methods that doesn’t cause flavor deterioration. Its biggest drawback is that it can be an expensive alternative.
Tunnel pasteurizers can be equipped with automatic-stop mechanisms to safeguard against over-pasteurization of product if the internal conveyor happens to halt or malfunction. This keeps your product safe and in optimal condition for consumption.
Variety of Size and Dimensions
Tunnel pasteurizers come in different sizes and dimensions depending upon the product being packaged, the container needed and required output. This equipment can be custom designed to suit the needs of the client.
Tunnel Pasteurizers Can Work for Your Company’s Pasteurization Needs
Industry is always improving. The same holds true of pasteurization processes in the food and beverage industry. As you evaluate different pasteurization processes and technologies, you must weigh the effectiveness of a process, the effect a process may have upon the flavor, nutrients, texture, etc. and the safety hazards of the process.
One technology to consider is tunnel pasteurization. Available in a range of sizes, dimensions and technical specifications, there’s sure to be a tunnel pasteurization that can fit your needs. However, if you find there aren’t, a custom-designed tunnel pasteurizer can be made to suit your company’s needs.
Contact Smart Machine Technologies to learn more about our state-of-the-art tunnel pasteurizing systems, or to get a quote for your pasteurizer project.