After installing the pasteurization unit, made by Swiss company Napasol, last week, ISF is said to be the first UK company that can reliably deliver pasteurized ready-to-eat snacks to the wholesale and retail industry.
Although nuts, seeds, and dry fruit snacks have become increasingly popular, thanks to their nutritional health benefits, widely publicized product recalls have had detrimental effects on the commercialization of such, said Napasol.
Food safety risks
“Grocery chains are averse to food safety risks and pasteurization would insure that the ready-to-eat snacks they carry are both healthy and safe,” claims the company. “The Napasol pasteurization process combines vacuum and steam to heat treat the products efficiently at temperatures high enough to kill the microorganisms and low enough to preserve the nutritional qualities and taste, color, and texture of the food.”
Steam injected in a strong vacuum allows condensation on the surface of the product; rapidly raising temperature which kills the micro-organisms, said the company. A subsequent vacuum phase removes the moisture by condensation so cooling and drying the product. “Exposure to heat and moisture are thus minimised to the benefit of the quality of the product and…is effective at decontamination without cooking the product,” claims Napasol.
Using this process, contamination levels are reduced below target values following pasteurisation guaranteeing microbiologically safe products, it adds.
Napasol pasteurization units operate worldwide on nut and dry fruit products as well as herbs, spices, teas, dry vegetables and spices.
Routine contamination testing of such low moisture foods has been considered sufficient to screen any problem, said Napasol. But it added: “Salmonella outbreaks linked to peanuts and almonds, as well as product recalls linked to the detection of Salmonella or E. Coli in pistachio, cashews, and Brazils as well as seeds and seed mixes sampled at retail point indicate that there is a risk. “
Detection of salmonella in retail packs of seeds or seed mixes lead to 12 product recalls in the UK between February and May 2008 alone, said Napasol.