Aseptic food processing technique: All questions answered

10 September 2020 Thursday 16:39
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Aseptic food processing technique: All questions answered

Food and beverage production and distribution is a quality-critical process. Simply producing, packaging, and dispatching to the markets is not enough. You have to ensure that the quality of the food is maintained throughout the process. The food should reach the consumer in the best state for safe consumption. Presently, when people are more concerned about germ-free products than ever aseptic food processing systems are becoming a staple for the industry.

The aseptic food processing technique ensures that the food is produced, filled, packages, and sealed in a sterile environment. The aim is to impede the entry of microbes at each level of processing. It not only ensures healthy product delivery but also extends the products' life on the shelf. With aseptic processing, food does not spoil in storage creating a win-win situation for both manufacturers and customers. Here we attempt to clear the most common ambiguities regarding aseptic food processing.

  • Aseptic processing compared to canned food

Both canning and aseptic processing are heating based processes. However, the stage at which the food is heated for sterling is different. In the canning process, heating is performed after packaging. So, the heat must travel from the sides of the cans through the food to reach the center. This process takes significant time to complete.

On the flip side, in aseptic processing, the food is heated for a few seconds at ultra-high temperature. High temperature kills the microbes and due to momentary heating, the quality of food is preserved. The flavor, color, and nutritional values remain the same making it a healthier choice. After sterilization, the food is filled and packages in the sterile environment that ensure no entry of microbes.

  • Sterilizing and heating

In aseptic processing, the food is sterilized by rapid high heating. Most often, tubular, plates, scraped-surface heat exchange, or steam injection into the product is used for heating. Some businesses also use other methods like microwaves. This ultra swift heating and cooling is best achieved with liquids.

Once the product is sterilized, it is passed to aseptic fillers. These fillers are specially designed equipment for filling in an aseptic environment. They sterilize the packaging material and fill the processed food before sealing it most safely. This method is preferred as it retains the quality of food in terms of taste, texture, vitamins, and odor until it is consumed.

  • Material packaging

The packaging material is as important as the entire process of sterilizing food. The material must not only prevent physical damage but also keep the food quality intact. It must be able to keep the food in a sterile condition within the sealed packaging.

Aluminum, plastic, and semi-rigid paper are used to achieve this goal. Aluminum acts as a light and oxygen barrier, the innermost plastic layer keeps it liquid-tight, and paper provides firmness and strength to the packaging. This triple-layer lamination presents staling without preservatives and refrigeration.

  • Benefits of Aseptic processing

The aseptic food processing technique is widely adopted by leading businesses in the industry. It is preferred for the enticing benefits you get.

  • The longer shelf life of the product
  • Packaging in a wide range of sizes is possible
  • Convenient in porting
  • Exceptional food quality retention and delivery to the customers