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Retort Heat Distribution test

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 04:30 AM

Do we need to do heat distribution test regularly (e.g. every 3 years) even no changes been made on retort specification such as steam pipes, venting valve, etc. Last time, auditor asked for regular schedule of  heat distribution test even we do not change any part of retort and/or steam boiler/piping. Please advise


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Posted 06 December 2013 - 02:47 PM

I would.  At least across a selection of programmes / products to prove nothing had changed.  After all, in three years, how do you know your boilers are operating as efficiently?  Scale build up hasn't affected the nozzles?  The steam pressure hasn't dropped?  Maybe with changes in ingredients or how you pack, the way the heat penetrates has changed?  I can see why they would want this.  In three years nothing stays still in the food industry.

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avila muncar

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 07:51 PM

Hi avila,


Can you say with absolute, 100% confidence that absolutely nothing changed in the past XX years since you installed the retort? Even subtle changes can impact the distribution of heat throughout a retort and affect the commercially sterile status of the product.  


I recall a number of years ago coming into a note on my desk that said "FYI - a steam spreader broke in one of the retorts last night, but maintenance repaired it 'like for like' and we're good to go". As it turns out, in their haste the engineers mistakenly had the steam outlets in the wrong direction (so much for 'like for like'!) and the "dead spot" had now changed inside the retort, as did the heat distribution. A heat distribution test following the event proved that.


I agree 100% with GMO - the delivery of steam to and inside of your retort might have changed for several reasons that you are unaware of. Regular heat penetration testing should alert you to an issue.



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avila muncar

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