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Container Inversion For Sterilization of plastic film seal


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#1 qaccount

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 07:56 PM

Hi All,

 

I'm wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction... We currently hot fill and flip our containers to sterilize the plastic film that seals the cups.  I want to run a validation study that shows the steam from the product is enough to fill the small amount of headspace and sterilize the film.  Any resources or processing techniques that you know would be helpful!  We also discussed installing a UV light to sterilize the film but that doesn't necessarily cover the very top rim inside the cups that product does not touch... 

 

Thanks in advance!  



#2 Scampi

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 08:15 PM

that depends on an awful lot of things, it's not as cut and dry as you may think

 

1. what is the pathogen of concern/ spoilage organism of concern

 

2. finished pH and brix

 

3. storage conditions

 

4. is the film as close to sterile as possible when it goes on

 

5. are you aseptically filling


Because we always have is never an appropriate response!


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#3 bhanson

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 01:54 PM

We also hot fill product, seal, flip, and then flash cool.  We recently passed our first BRC audit without any questions regarding film sterilization.  We're hot filling at 170-200 degrees F and used the BRC appendix (p99) as our process validation.  Should you genuinely need to validate, you might want to consider a standards-traceable thermometer that can probe test the headspace temperature.  At our temps, the sterilization time required is sometimes as low as 15 seconds.  

 

Bill H.



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#4 Ken Bookmyer

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 01:54 PM

What I would try is getting a good infrared thermometer and getting the temperature of the film in the center of the package at multiple points along the line. You can reasonably assume the temperate of the inside of the film is no lower than the outside. If you can show that temperature hits or exceeds the specification for the required time and temperature from your process authority then you can take that data back to them and ask them to revise your thermal process to not include flipping the package over. Even if you are doing a high acid food you should have a letter from a process authority stating you are exempt from filing. 

ken



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#5 Scampi

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 02:15 PM

The infrared thermometer may not read the film if it's clear.....but might I could be wrong

 

 

Can you swab random films post chill and validate from that against your current known parameters without knowing the actual headspace/film temp?


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#6 Ken Bookmyer

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 03:22 PM

Scampi,

My fear with swabbing is the anticipated level on the film is going to be near zero so I don't think you'd be able to show a significant micro reduction. They could try a hypodermic needle probe to get a reading of the actual temperature in the head space but it's going to take several seconds to get the sample off the line and a few more seconds to get a reading. By then the temperature could have dropped enough to give them an issue which is why I suggested the infrared. I suppose they could color some of the film so it gives them a better reading but I'd try it first with regular film and see what the process authority has to say. 






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