Whitworths, the UK processor of packaged dried fruits, has turned to Systech to upgrade its Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) system.
The processor currently produces around a million packs of dried fruit and fruit snacks each week using MAP to ensure long product shelf life. Sample packs are tested every hour using a Systech Mapcheck analyser to confirm that the package is reliably sealed and theinert atmosphere is within specification.
Although best known for its range of dried fruit, Whitworths was originallya flour milling business founded by three brothers in 1886. It was notuntil the 1950s that the operation was expanded to include cereals, rice, speciality sugars and the famous dried fruits.
The key to Whitworths'success was the development of a washing and drying process for dried fruit using equipment converted from the flour mill. Now the largest processor and packer of dried fruit in the UK, the Whitworths brand is a familiar sight on retailers' shelves and many own label products are also supplied by Whitworths.
The processor has always maintained its market leading position by making full use of the latest processing and packaging technology. Today,the shelf life of most products, both Whitworths and own label, is maximisedby MAP using inert nitrogen to replace mostof the oxygen, one of the causes of product deterioration.
Typically, driedfruit is packed in an atmosphere containing less than 10 per cent oxygen, instantmashed potatoes less than 7 per cent and nuts less than 5 per cent. With production runningat an average of almost one million packs each week, ensuring that they are reliably sealed and that the atmosphere is a major operation.
Whitworths' quality control laboratory uses a SystechMapcheck oxygen headspace gas analyser to monitor packs taken from theproduction line every hour and at each product changeover.
According to quality controller Karen Ward, the Systech Mapcheck is theideal instrument for the job as the test is simply a matter of inserting theprobe into the pack and pressing a button. The result is then shown on theLED display as percentage of oxygen in less than five seconds. Calibrationand programming are said to be simple and the self-diagnostics and inbuilt sample pump and flowmeter virtually eliminate sampling errors.
Systech Instruments is one of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of gas analysis instrumentation and has agents and distributors in most major countries. Its gas analysis equipment is an essential part of the production process in many industries, includingindustrial gases, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics and food, andis widely used by university and industrial research facilities.