International Dispensing Corporation (IDC) said its large-format Multiserve SafePak provides an opportunity for processors to sell dispensible drinks and liquid foods at supermarkets, small retailers and foodservice operations. The product also allows foodservice operators to avoid the capital investment needed for refrigerated dispensing equipment, IDC stated. The core of the packaging is a tap designed to prevent microorganisms and oxygen from compromising product safety, nutritional value, and taste - even during unrefrigerated, repeated use, said IDC's founder and chairman Greg Abbott. Branded as 'The Answer', the aseptic tap is made of a polymer-blend that allows users to dispense both low and high acid liquid products from large-format containers without breaking product sterility, he claimed. The Answer does not allow microorganisms, oxygen, or odors to enter the system, effectively eliminating the need for preservatives and refrigeration, he stated. Multiserve SafePaks can be used for juices, organic beverages, fortified waters, dairy products, coffees, teas, energy drinks, smoothies, and smooth soups. "Valuable refrigerated space is gained since consumers can dispense beverages from attractive Multiserve SafePaks positioned anywhere in kitchens, work environments, and recreational areas," he stated. Processors can also use the multiserve pack as a replacement for multipacks of single-served beverages that require use of extra packaging materials and energy, he added. "The new option will help brand owners achieve dramatically higher sustainability scores," Abbott stated. Tests by IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group found that the Answer could maintain sterility "indefinitely", after repeated dispensing, in ambient temperatures, IDC claimed. Tests showed that even after the nozzle was swabbed with a cocktail of 109 microorganisms, including Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and E. coli, Multiserve SafePaks with the Answer survived for a minimum of 23 days of repeated use, IDC claimed. The tap is equipped with double-tamper-evident safety features, as well as a snap- action, hermetic-sealing actuator. Multiserve SafePaks can be provided in a wide variety of shapes, from square to cylindrical. Sizes range from three to twenty liters. IDC can also supply the packaging as bags and pouches without the box, which can then be loaded into standing units. The packaging must be aseptically filled. Aseptic packaging refers to the process of maintaining sterile conditions throughout the packaging continuum. Flash pasteurization ensures that products that are normally fragile or perishable are made shelf-stable. The process kills more than 99 percent of food-borne bacteria, according to tests. Unlike retort and hot-fill canning, no nutrients are lost in the packaging process, and product quality and flavor remain virtually unchanged, IDC claims. The product, released to the market this August, is now being used by Whitney's Foods to package ready-to-drink iced coffees and teas, IDC announced yesterday. Whitney's is an affiliate of Steuben Foods, a privately-held food and dairy company based in Jamaica, New York. Steuben claims to be the largest aseptic processor in the US. "We are currently in confidential, advanced discussions with a number of domestic and multinational companies, who recognise the enormous potential of the Answer and the Multiserve SafePak," Abbott stated. "The name 'Bag-in-Box' doesn't do our technology justice."