INSIGHT & OUTLOOK Aseptic technology                                                                             thermal i...
Aseptic technologyproduct. Compared to other methods such         and steam is much lower than that for theas hot-fill, ex...
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A Paradigm Shift In Beverage Production


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A Paradigm Shift In Beverage Production

  1. 1. INSIGHT & OUTLOOK Aseptic technology thermal impact than the hot-fill product. This means that the product is more natural and the risk of destroying flavours does not exist. On the other hand, for ESL products, it is essential to always maintain the cold chain – this is often a challenge in countries, where there is a problem of cold chain availability at the point of sale.” What is the difference? In hot-fill process, the product is flash pasteurised at temperatures (between 120ºC and 140ºC) and held for a few seconds. After this, the product is cooled down to be filled in a container, which is then laid on its sides to sterilise the cap. It is then erected and undergoes rapid cooling down to about 40ºC in a cooling tunnel. Aseptic filling involves bottling a product at ambient temperature, ie without tunnel pasteurisation or hot-filling and without the addition of preservatives, in such a way that it attains a specified shelf-life. The products are only briefly heated before filling. Aseptic filling is recommended for both still as well as carbonated beverages. Basically, two processes of aseptic filling have emerged, dry and wet sterilisation, both with specific advantages and disadvantages. Kraus explains, “The most common applications in aseptic technology for beverage filling are definitely wet bottle sterilisation with Peracetic Acid (PAA) or dry bottle sterilisation with Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). The aseptic technology is indeed a strong growing market – the consumer these days expects a natural product without any preservative. The product should be ‘low processed’ to be as inartificial as possible.” Courtesy: Krones AG A paradigm shift in beverage productionWhile there are many technologies available in the market to process and pack beverages, aseptic processing isgaining importance as it can preserve the products safely in a natural state. But beverage manufacturers will haveto work closely with the technology providers to extract maximum benefit from aseptic processing. Rakesh Rao Refreshing technology There is an increasing demand for more natural and healthierN on-carbonated drinks such as juice, tea, milk, flavoured products among the consumers; so aseptic packaging enables water,etc need protection from microbial contamination to do away with preservatives, artificial colours etc. “Besides, as they contain sugars. Beverage manufacturers use compared to hot-filling for high acid drinks and retort for the low methods such as preservatives, hot-filling, extended acid ones, combined with respectively High Temperature Shortshelf-life (ESL), aseptic processing/filling, etc to eliminate microbes, Time (HTST) and Ultra-high Temperature (UHT) processing,thus ensuring safe consumption of drinks. However, in recent times, aseptic technology allows to preserve the organoleptic quality ofaseptic processing is gaining importance in the developed countries. the products still securing a long shelf-life,” elaborates RolandThe advantage of the aseptic process compared with hot-fill is Nicolas, Dairy & Aseptic Business Development Director, Serac.obvious, says Stefan Kraus, Product Manager-Filling Technology, Seconding this thought, V Gokuldas, Managing Director,Krones AG, adding, “The aseptic product is not as highly processed HRS Process Systems, says, “One of the biggest advantages ofas the hot-fill product, and the aseptic product experiences less aseptic technology is preservation of naturalness of processed 46 Modern Food Processing | March 2012
  2. 2. Aseptic technologyproduct. Compared to other methods such and steam is much lower than that for theas hot-fill, extended shelf-life wherein traditional technologies. “However, aseptic WHICH IS THE BEST?preservatives or extenders need to be packaging requires a higher investment Here are some of the characteristics ofadded, the same is not required in aseptic cost; so generally the more production the commonly used beverage processingprocessing. Also, some of the hot-fill/ESL end-user expects, the easier it is to justify methods:products need cold chain in the logistics the purchase of an aseptic line,” he adds. Hot-fill: It is normally filled inof supply.” Moreover, aseptic technology requires glass (not a restriction, but one of The aseptic technology is now a proven a minimum production capacity in order the most common), the containerand reliable technology, which guarantees that the fillers could be cost-effective. could be fragile and not easy toto obtain microbiologically stable products. Cesar Rodriguez, CEO, MachinePoint transport, and additionally couldNicolas says, “The market requires more Group, says, “This equipment need change the flavour characteristicsand more shelf-stable products with a additional care for specialised personnel as well as product propertieslong, sometimes very long shelf-life. It in order to keep equipment working and ESL: It has less shelf-life thanalso requires that food products must guarantee the product safety (all these aseptic product; the productbe kept safe in any conditions during safety requirements are necessary to quality would be similarstorage, transportation and distribution. guarantee the shelf-life of products).” Pasteurised or fresh milk: ItAseptic packaging is suitable for all these Although the initial cost of installation requires refrigeration and the shelf-requirements.” is high for aseptic technology, beverage life is shorter than aseptic products In the beverage field, aseptic cold manufacturers can enjoy several benefits. Aseptic filling: It requires afilling enables to use standard PET Gokuldas points out, “Smaller size packets minimum production capacitybottles instead of heat-set PET bottles are cheaper in aseptic as compared to hot- to be cost-effective, and thefor hot-filling. “This provides a significant fill or ESL. Hence, aseptic processing technology would not be availablepackaging material cost reduction and, in technology is as cost-effective as other for small single milk or foodaddition, offers a wider choice of bottle methods of processing. However, actual producers, because of minimumformat, shape, label or sleeve decor as savings can vary from product to product production requirementsthere is no temperature constraints on the and depending on the capacity of Source: Cesar Rodriguez, CEO, MachinePoint Grouppackaging,” explains Nicolas. the plant.” Aseptic processing also follows a A superficial comparison of aseptic is towards low-cost recyclable packaginggeneral trend in the food industry to packages with other commonly used material, which is effective for an asepticupgrade the hygienic standard of the packaging material often leads laypersons environment. These are being evaluatedequipment and particularly in the dairies. to the conclusion that aseptic packaging for small as well as bulk packaging.”He adds, “The aseptic technology features is a more expensive option. On the Another area of interest for aseptica high grade of machinery design and contrary, Rodriguez observes that a technology in the future will be processingmanufacture, complying with food quality deeper understanding of the material and of beverages with fruit particles. Krausstandard for ultra-clean and aseptic its underlying technology clearly shows opines, “One trend is definitely the high lineequipment, the likes of EHEDG, 3A unmatched levels of cost-effectiveness. In flexibility with maximum line availability.or FDA. This comes together with a set fact, according to him, aseptic technology During the last few years, another trendof cleaning, sterilisation and disinfection offers a host of savings, some of came up: aseptic filling of particles. Theprocedures, which have to be carefully which are tangible while others are consumer wants to experience the fruitfollowed. Besides, this necessarily implies intangible (but highly significant in terms itself in the natural product. So there isan improvement of raw food quality, like of their value). a significant growing demand in fillingfresh milk.” particles without damaging them.” Customised solutions In future, the demand for asepticallyA cost-effective method? The growing demand for fruit-based processed products, which retain theirThe comparison with other techniques, beverages is leading to evaluation of aseptic naturalness in taste and flavour, and containsuch as hot-filling, retort, etc, shows technology for different products with no additives, are expected to go up manifoldthat specially for high-capacity lines, customisation. Gokuldas says, “Aseptic with growing number of health-consciousaseptic technology is economically more technology for beverage processing is consumers. Hence, keeping in mind theinteresting. For example, Nicolas says, working in two areas – one is processing growing consumer demand as well as cost-aseptic cold-filling enables to use standard and the other packaging. The trend is to effective technology benefits, the demand forPET bottles instead of heat-set PET design units with low energy consumption aseptic processing is growing among beveragebottles for hot-filling. Moreover, the and low product hold-up, with optimum manufacturers, sums up Gokuldas.overall consumption of processed water processing capacity. In packaging, the trend Email: 48 Modern Food Processing | March 2012