Company launches rapid shake method for canned foods
are singing in the future if a UK company's quick sterilisation
technology becomes the new standard for treating cannedproducts.
Zinetec claims its process of rapidly shaking tinned products during sterilisation produces fresher, better tasting food at lower cost. The technology dramatically lowers sterilisation times forcanned, flexible packed and bottled food products to about ten minutes, down from about 45 minutes. The technology, patented as Shaka, will help companies lift their current canned foods brands into a better competitive position against the growing market for fresher foods in the chilled, freshcut and "natural" categories, a spokesman said. John Emanuel, chairman of Utek Europe, said Zinetec's method for ambient storage packaged products produces foods with a better colour, flavour, texture and "mouth feel". Utek ismarketing the technology to machine makers and food processing companies on Zinetec's behalf. "You can now have fresh products in a can," Emanuel said. "A pea in the mouth goes 'ping', which it doesn't do in a retorted product." He told FoodProductionDaily.com that cooking times for foods can lowered by up to 95 per cent for canned goods, 90 per cent for many flexible pack products and up to 80 per cent for products inglass jars. For example soups in 400g cans can have a total cooking cycle of about seven minutes instead of the current two hours. The process has been tested with a range of foods, including baby products,desserts, sauces, vegetables, fruits and those based on milk. The process is based on the rapid agitation of canned and other types of packaged foods in a specially built retort or autoclave used during sterilisation. A retort or autoclave is a pressurized device that enables the heating of aqueous solutions up to temperatures above the boiling point of water, thus sterilising packed products. After canned produces are packed their are put into autoclaves for sterilisation. The heat steaming process normally takes up to an hour plus additional cooling time. Food companies normallyincorporate some rotating or shaking, swirling the contents to increase the speed heat penetrates the products, thus reducing processing time. However, the long heating process results in foods that are overcooked, with a resulting reduction in quality, Emanuel said. Zinetec's founder, scientist Richard Walden, found that by rapidlyshaking the contents a dramatic reduction in processing time can be achieved and fresher products result. He developed the technology about nine years ago for a European packing company. The patented process lay unused until Walden bought the rights to the technology recently. He brought in Utek to help with the marketing. The companies are using a process pilot plant developed with UK-based Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association. Zinetec is in the process of negotiating licences with autoclave manufacturers in France and Germany, Emanuel said. Several major European food processors also hold development licences for theprocess. Zinetec hopes to move them on to commercial licences. He did not name the companies, saying the negotiations were still ongoing. Products using the technique are expected to hit the market next year he said. "The brands of big food companies are under pressure from fresh and chilled foods," Emanuel said. "Now they can suddenly compete in these categories." External links to companies or organisations mentioned in this story: Zinetec Utek