Pasteurization has become an industry standard for numerous food companies, most notably anyone dealing in milk products. However, pasteurization can be used for foods and semi-solid products to prevent the spread of disease and improve shelf life.
Pasteurization has several benefits when used to treat food products, making it an important part of many food processing industries.
Foods And Semi-Solids That Benefit From Pasteurization
Among the foods and semi-solid products that benefit from pasteurization are the following:
- Jams and jellies
- Salad dressing
- Canned goods
- Baby food
- Sauces and salsa
- Eggs and egg products
- Condiments, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard
This list isn’t comprehensive, of course. Any product that can withstand high temperatures without being significantly altered and which may be at risk of exposure to bacteria and other microbes can benefit from pasteurization.
Pasteurization Of Food: 6 Benefits
Pasteurization has several important benefits when used to prepare foods and semi-solids for distribution. Six of those include the benefits discussed below.
1. Prolonged shelf life
Keeping product fresh long enough for it to make it to market and then on to consumers’ pantries is key. Some bacteria and other microorganisms can cause food products to deteriorate faster than it takes for the end consumer to purchase it, so pasteurization is vital to making your food products viable.
2. Preventing disease
Diseases are found in many food products, and removing the organisms that cause those diseases is critical to ensuring your product is safe for general consumption. For example, eggs are known to spread salmonella and avian flu, and pasteurization kills the organisms that cause those diseases.
Some food products are breeding grounds for microbes, which means that as sterile as your processing plant may be, there may be a chance your product would cause disease later on if it’s not pasteurized.
3. Quick and safe sanitation
There are many ways to sanitize food products, but few are as quick or as safe as pasteurization. With pasteurization, the temperature of the product is simply raised enough to destroy any microorganisms that may be present. Other methods may involve chemical treatments or radiation, and may not be the safest to use.
Pasteurization is also faster than most methods that rely on filtration or other means.
4. Consistent product quality
By eliminating volatile contaminants, the product becomes more stable, therefore the quality of your product is more consistent. A more consistent product means your customers know what to expect from your production lines, and it’s easier to provide reliable results.
5. Potential improvements in flavor and scent
In some cases, the pasteurization process can improve the smell and taste of your product. Often, foods and other products may have bacteria that produce unpleasant smells over time but do not necessarily impact the product’s quality besides. Removing those bacteria can create a more consistently pleasant experience for the consumer.
6. Regulatory compliance
Numerous laws are in place that require certain food products to be pasteurized or otherwise treated to remove bacteria and viruses.
For example, the FDA requires that pasteurized eggs or egg products should be used instead of raw eggs in certain products when serving populations such as school children and nursing home patients.
Regulations that apply to your industry may vary by state.
How The Pasteurization Process Works
The following are the steps of pasteurization for foods and semi-solids.
In most cases, the pasteurization process involves heat-treating products, usually with steam or immersion in hot water. The product may be pasteurized inside or separate from its packaging, but the idea is the heat will kill off any unwanted pathogens.
The heating process is very carefully controlled. It should be hot enough to get the job done, but not so hot that it alters the product in a detrimental way. As such, very specific target temperatures are used in the process.
Once a product reaches its target temperature, that temperature is held for a set time. Again, this is very carefully regulated to maintain the integrity of the product. Once the time period is over, the temperature is lowered back to the desired level for the market.
Choosing A Pasteurizer That Does The Job
To properly pasteurize your solid and semisolid food products, it’s important to get the right pasteurizer for the job. Pasteurizers come in various configurations, including steam box pasteurizers and tunnel pasteurizers.
Steam box pasteurizers
With a steam box pasteurizer, a case, pallet, or vat of the product is placed inside a chamber, which is raised to the desired temperature with steam. This method is great for large batches of product at once.
A tunnel pasteurization system runs the product through a series of chambers in which its temperature is gradually brought up with hotter and hotter jets of water. Once it’s done, the product is gradually cooled back down. Tunnel pasteurization systems are perfect for fragile packaging and as part of continuous production lines.
Well designed system
With either tunnel or steam box pasteurization, you’ll need a system that is designed to:
- Bring large quantities of product to very specific temperatures
- Operate reliably and efficiently
- Adhere to highly specific timeframes
- Outlast the rigors of your production process
At Smart Machine Technologies, we design pasteurization systems that can handle solid and semi-solid products in a reliable, efficient manner. Let us help you improve your pasteurization process.