Aseptic processing is used in commercial production to thermally sterilize liquid product packaging. Widely used in pharmaceutical/food industry the process involves packaging containers under previously sterilized condition.
This invariably increases shelf life of the products without the need for refrigeration. Aseptic processing involves conservation of sterilized packaging, sterilization of packaging and thermal sterilization of product.
Why invest in aseptic processing
Advantages of this processing method includes flexibility in use of containers, better pigment, vitamin and nutrient retention. The flash heating method achieves sterility, lowers processing time and temperature range.
Others are texture, fruit juice viscosity, color and flavor retention. Limitations include maintenance of sterile facility, air sterility and higher processing cost than regular canning.
Products that require aseptic filling
Aseptic filling has replaced the old method of in-container sterilization. Although the method is primarily for liquid product commercial facilities have added food that contain small discrete particles.
Product that require aseptic processing are soups, salad dressing, ice cream mix and tomato. Others are baby food, fruit, vegetable, liquid egg, yogurt, cottage cheese. More are rice desserts, concentrates, milk, fruit juice, liquid foods.
Aseptic processed products
- Salad dressing
- Ice cream mix
- Baby food
- Liquid egg
- Cottage cheese
- Rice desserts
- Fruit juice
- Liquid foods
License and registration
Commercial operators are required to maintain proper documentation of product operation. This is to ensure commercial sterile facility work under strict sterile conditions in the facility. Any contamination or breach requires disposal of said product because of contamination.
If there is any contamination extensive cleaning of facility including re-sterilization which is mandatory before operations resume. Cleanup methods include heat treatment, use of hydrogen peroxide, saturated steam and other methods.
Register the business as a limited liability company and get insurance. Others are tax identification number, networking and union registration.
The company requires operational license, federal/state inspection and certification. FDA inspection or regulation involves the type of product, equipment, packaging material and equipment.
Three stages are sterilization of food, sterilization of container sealing in sterile environment. The system utilizes ultra-high temperature (UHT) above 130–150 °C for 2 seconds.
Methods used in sterilizing containers include hot water, radiation, heat, steam, and chemical or heat/chemical combo. Food sterilization involves direct heat transfer through steam infusion then rapid flash cooling 70C
Equipment need depends on the type of processing and product. They include steam injection, steam fusion, product to product. Others are tubular heat exchange, scraped surface heat exchange, and superheated steam metal container system. Others are thermoform-fill seal system, aseptic system, webfed paperboard systems.
Aseptic packaging material should maintain quality of product, protect from physical damage and assure sterile conditions. The packaging must be filled/sealed under sterile conditions with sterilized product. Components of plastic packaging material are aluminum 6%, polyethylene 24%, and paper 70%.
There are many types of aseptic containers used for packaging. Selection depends on the cost, type of material, characteristics, toughness and shelf-life. Others are chemical inertness, odor absorption, gas/vapor barrier, scalding and flavor.
Selection of rigid aseptic containers are jars, bottles, totes and metal cans. Semi-rigid plastic containers are trays, tubs, bottles, performed cups. Flexible plastic containers include sachets, pouches while paperboard containers are perforated cartons, Web fed, roll-fed paper, plastic carton, foil.
Rigid aseptic containers
- Metal cans
Semi-rigid plastic containers
- performed cups
Flexible plastic containers
- Perforated cartons
- Web fed
- Roll-fed paper
- Plastic carton