First launched two decades ago, the company says that it has upgraded the system in response to the growing requirements of food and beverage producers for greater food safety and security. It entails a new packaging format for the Aligal branded gases that is said to be tailored to these requirements. The launch is being made in the Pacific Southwest region of the US, with a view to expanding the platform worldwide.
Air Liquide's distinctively designed Aligal branded gases and cylinders are "a proactive approach to ensure the safety of compressed gases for the food processing industry," said Kevin McKean, cylinder business director, Air Liquide America. "We see much more than a gas cylinder. We see an opportunity to minimise the risk of intentional or accidental contamination."
The new packaging has been developed to reduce the risk of tampering and provide food processors with an additional level of safety. The company also says the re-design means the cylinders are now painted a distinctive burgundy colour, to help differentiate it.
The re-design includes a residual pressure valve to prevent cylinder contamination by restricting back flow as well as a shrink sleeve over the over the valve for tamper-evidence. The sleeve is also printed with the company's logo to deter counterfeiting.
On top of these features the cylinder also comes with a traceable batch analysis sticker, which includes filling information and a Certificate of analysis. Finally it also contains the company's trademarked Scandia cap, to provide valve and regulator protection.
Modified atmosphere packaging involves the modification of the head space gas in air-tight packaging in order to extend the shelf life of food and beverage products. This is done using gases to replace the air inside the package in order to prevent or limit deterioration to the product. Air Liquide's capabilities in this field concentrate on pastry and solid food products. For liquids the company has developed specially designed inerting capabilities.
France-based Air Liquide is present in 65 countries around the world and has a particularly strong presence in Europe, where it is a leading provider of industrial and medical gases to a variety of industries including the food and beverage sector. In 2003 it recorded sales of €8.4 billion, 80 per of which were accounted for outside the domestic market. At the end of last month it announced first half yearly sales up 9.8 per cent to €4.47 billion. It currently employs approximately 31,900 staff.