Aseptic filling for fruit purees
Aseptic filling is a key process in modern food and ingredient manufacturing, particularly for fruit purees and fillings. We recently installed an upgraded combined line to sterilise, cool and aseptically fill fruit purees for a UK client, and it provides a perfect illustration of how different equipment comes together to form a line capable of safely and efficiently processing a range of viscous products.
A flexible solution
The client prides itself on its supply of high quality, locally grown ingredients with the highest provenance, so ensuring that our solution could process the required volume of two tonnes per hour without impacting on quality or texture was at the heat of the brief. The ability to switch quickly and cleanly between different batches and products was also key. The built-in CIP (cleaning in place) programme facilitates this and also enables the system to cope with seasonal changes and different orders – a major factor behind the client’s decision to choose our solution.
Selecting the right heat exchanger
Most aseptically packaged food and drink products are cooked, pasteurised or sterilised immediately prior to packaging. There are different methods of doing this: for example, high viscous products generally use a triple-tube heat exchanger, such as the HRS Triple Tube AS Series used in this instance; products which contain particles frequently use a double-tube design, like the HRS DTA Series; while thinner, less viscous ones benefit from multi-tube heat exchanger technology, like the MI Series.
In this solution, fruit puree enters from the production lines via a balance tank before being pre-heated and de-aerated then passed to the thermal treatment section. The product is heated to 94ºC using water derived from steam from the factory (heated via an HRS K series multi-tube heat exchanger), and held at this temperature to ensure full pasteurisation/sterilisation.
The system constantly monitors the product temperature; any product which has not been fully pasteurised or sterilised is returned. Once fully heat-treated, the puree is cooled to 30ºC using ambient water and another MI Series heat exchanger, then cooled further to 10ºC. The equipment is sterilised with hot water at 121ºC. Sterility is maintained with steam which is automatically temperature controlled.
Increased productivity, improved quality
The HRS Aseptic Filler AF Series is designed with one or two automatic filling heads to fill 5, 10 and 20 kg packs or 200 litre aseptic bags in drums via a 1 inch spout. One of the two filling heads can be moved to allow the filling of 1 tonne bags when required.
At the end of each production cycle, the equipment and filling heads are automatically cleaned with CIP solution and the system is re-set, avoiding cross contamination, preserving product quality and maintaining food safety. The new line has increased productivity by removing the need to shut down and reconfigure the line between production runs. It has also improved product quality through gentler handling and improved heat transfer.