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Is it possible to Hot Fill Hold with No Inversion?


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Barnacle

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:59 PM

I own a small scale food manufacturer and we hot-fill-hold for many of our products. We fill above 180F, cap, and then invert the container to sterilize the lid in accordance with our process authority. I want to see if there is a way to hot fill without inverting. I have watched videos of some production lines where there is not an invert step. Our process authority does not focus on this type of production and is not aware of other methods. 

 

Thanks! 



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Posted 20 July 2020 - 07:39 PM

It may help to let us know what products you are making Barnacle.

 

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Barnacle

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 08:07 PM

Thanks Simon. We make hot sauce, salsa, and jams/jellies. The hot sauce is on the thicker side and the salsa and jams/jellies have chunks in the them.



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Posted 21 July 2020 - 02:56 AM

Get a new process authority.


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Ted S

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 09:57 PM

Hello. For your type of product mix (i.e. low pH), airborne yeast and mold (from the air in your production room) can enter the headspace of the product during the filling activity and grow out during shelf life unless the headspace is "heat treated" at the point of fill which is the reason for inverting a hot filled product. Unless you are using a steam capper (i.e. steam is injected into the headspace of the filled container immediately before the cap is applied), you must invert the product for a minimum of two minutes (pH dependent) so that you can use the heat of the product to sterilize the headspace/underside of the cap. In addition, since the caps are not sterile, the inversion also sterilizes the underside of the cap in the event that it has any type of yeast, mold or other bacteria growth from employee handling, caps sitting in an open hopper, open cases of returned caps sitting in the warehouse, etc... so that nothing can grow out during shelf life. Hope this helps. 



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Barnacle

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 01:27 AM

Ted, Thanks for the explanation. Looks like a steam capper is what I need if I want to stop inverting! 



HCFtech

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 07:59 AM

A site I worked at doing soups recently were hot filling with inversion initially, but we found the vacuum created on cooling was making the lids difficult to remove by the customer so we started using a six start cap and put an in line UV system between the unscrambler and the capper. We were filling at >75C if this helps. pH of product was right on the cusp (4.5 - 4.8) being predominantly tomato base, but the steam from the product was determined to sterilise the head space. Obviously shelf life validation helps alleviate any questions.



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Barnacle

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 06:32 PM

HCFtech, Thanks for sharing. Definitely interested in that type of process. I will look more into it. Thanks!



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Posted 23 July 2020 - 05:30 AM

Not my area but a considerable amount of investigation has been done regarding yr OP query. Hot fill is an apparently simple process but theoretical validation is less simple.

 

A detailed study of internal/external options regarding headspace/inner surfaces and an overview of process validations are described here (Campden) -

 

Attached File  Surface decontamination in hot filling,Campden,2015.pdf   4.01MB   35 downloads

Attached File  validation Principles of continuous thermal processes,2018.pdf   657.62KB   27 downloads

 

Steam capping is now obviously big business, eg -

 

https://www.profoodw...ping-technology


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Charles.C


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 06:08 PM

Hello. For your type of product mix (i.e. low pH), airborne yeast and mold (from the air in your production room) can enter the headspace of the product during the filling activity and grow out during shelf life unless the headspace is "heat treated" at the point of fill which is the reason for inverting a hot filled product. Unless you are using a steam capper (i.e. steam is injected into the headspace of the filled container immediately before the cap is applied), you must invert the product for a minimum of two minutes (pH dependent) so that you can use the heat of the product to sterilize the headspace/underside of the cap. In addition, since the caps are not sterile, the inversion also sterilizes the underside of the cap in the event that it has any type of yeast, mold or other bacteria growth from employee handling, caps sitting in an open hopper, open cases of returned caps sitting in the warehouse, etc... so that nothing can grow out during shelf life. Hope this helps. 

 

Hello,

 

I have a similar question but related to juice (100% under HACCP) and juice beverages (Preventive...). Products are acidic. Lowest product pH is 2.8 and the least acidic product haves pH of 3.9. Beverages all have sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate at 0.1% w/w (of each). Pasteurization is critical limit is 195 F but operational limit is 196 F. Filling temp is ≥ 185 F. Do we need to invert the bottles? FDA provides validated process for this shelf-stable products on the Juice HACCP Guidance and they do not mention the requirement of inversion, only to hold at 185 F for at least 1 minute. As you mention, the only risk are spoilage yeasts and molds because pH (and additives in the case of beverages) wont allow pathogen growth and filling temperature/hold time will kill any vegetative cells.

 

Therefore, having in mind that spoilage is not a health hazard, can we use this information to justify that there is no risk and no need for a process preventive control (in the case of beverages)?

 

Lastly, we would like to reduce the holding time at 185 because the distance from the capper to the cooling tunnel is not enough to keep the product 1 minute before cooling tunnel. Our cooling tunnel is very small and the product only loose 2-4 degrees on a best case scenario. The product remains over 180 F considerable time (not measured). Now, based on scientific literature, time required for 5 Log reduction of acid-adapted pathogens in products with pH ≥ 4.1 is 0.1 min (6 seconds) in a temp range from 178 F to 181 F.  Does the combination of the product pH (and additives), filling temperature and cumulative time at the aforementioned temperatures provide an acceptable validation to eliminate the holding time and temperature requirements (185 F, 1 min)? 

 

Would appreciate your expert advice.



Ted S

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 03:32 PM

Hello Eluith. 

 

Although I am not an "expert" with juice/juice beverages, I can offer some thoughts on your various questions. Regarding if you should invert, I feel that you should unless you are using a "sterile" cap under sterile (i.e. high hygiene/high care) environmental conditions. If you do not invert, you will always be at risk of yeast/mold growth at some point during shelf life in either the headspace or underside of the caps since these two areas will not receive any type of adequate heat treatment once the product has been filled. One way to avoid inverting, though, is to: 1) Have a robust environmental monitoring program/Sanitation program for Yeast and Mold management, 2) Always use sterile bottles & caps, etc... Otherwise, there will always be a risk. I personally have had numerous Y&M issues in low pH products t/o my career and one serious issue is the potential for gas development (esp. yeast) during shelf life. I have had glass jars "explode" as they are sitting on the retail store shelf due to this issue. One easy way that I have used in the past where "line inverting" was not realistic (due to $$ or space) was to store all hot filled bottled product "upside down" in the case by flipping the case as it comes off of the filling line. We then kept the case "upside down" in the warehouse and re-flipped it when it got pulled for customer orders. This works well in many situations. The only way to properly avoid inverting is to conduct a risk assessment specific to your exact environmental/sanitation/employee hygiene situation inn order to best understand if this needs to be pro actively managed. 

 

Regarding the use of Na Benzoate and K Sorbate @ 0.1% levels, these preservatives are intended to protect against Y&M AFTER the product has been opened (by the end user) and not as much as a preservative during unopened shelf life. If you properly thermally process/hot fill your products during manufacturing, Y&M should not be in the bottled product since they are very heat sensitive. It is only after the end user opens and begins to use the product that Y&M can be re-introduced into the product (from the end user) and this is where Na Benzoate and K Sorbate do their most important work. 

 

Finally, a combination of product pH, time and temperature can be effectively used to manage for spoilage organisms, but since your product portfolio is very diverse (pH from. 2.8 to 3.9), you really need to perform actual tests for each product formula/pH value to accurately determine what temperatures can be changed. The rule of thumb is: the lower the product pH, the lower the filling temperature can be. This is how pasta sauce manufacturers (who make many different type of jarred sauces at different pH levels) vary their filling temperature to improve line efficiencies/product quality. But you need to look at each product scenario individually in order to form accurate conclusions as to whether the 185*F, 1 min can be changed. 

 

Hope this helps. Good luck!



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EVG

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 08:17 PM

Hello Eluith. 

 

Although I am not an "expert" with juice/juice beverages, I can offer some thoughts on your various questions. Regarding if you should invert, I feel that you should unless you are using a "sterile" cap under sterile (i.e. high hygiene/high care) environmental conditions. If you do not invert, you will always be at risk of yeast/mold growth at some point during shelf life in either the headspace or underside of the caps since these two areas will not receive any type of adequate heat treatment once the product has been filled. One way to avoid inverting, though, is to: 1) Have a robust environmental monitoring program/Sanitation program for Yeast and Mold management, 2) Always use sterile bottles & caps, etc... Otherwise, there will always be a risk. I personally have had numerous Y&M issues in low pH products t/o my career and one serious issue is the potential for gas development (esp. yeast) during shelf life. I have had glass jars "explode" as they are sitting on the retail store shelf due to this issue. One easy way that I have used in the past where "line inverting" was not realistic (due to $$ or space) was to store all hot filled bottled product "upside down" in the case by flipping the case as it comes off of the filling line. We then kept the case "upside down" in the warehouse and re-flipped it when it got pulled for customer orders. This works well in many situations. The only way to properly avoid inverting is to conduct a risk assessment specific to your exact environmental/sanitation/employee hygiene situation inn order to best understand if this needs to be pro actively managed. 

 

Regarding the use of Na Benzoate and K Sorbate @ 0.1% levels, these preservatives are intended to protect against Y&M AFTER the product has been opened (by the end user) and not as much as a preservative during unopened shelf life. If you properly thermally process/hot fill your products during manufacturing, Y&M should not be in the bottled product since they are very heat sensitive. It is only after the end user opens and begins to use the product that Y&M can be re-introduced into the product (from the end user) and this is where Na Benzoate and K Sorbate do their most important work. 

 

Finally, a combination of product pH, time and temperature can be effectively used to manage for spoilage organisms, but since your product portfolio is very diverse (pH from. 2.8 to 3.9), you really need to perform actual tests for each product formula/pH value to accurately determine what temperatures can be changed. The rule of thumb is: the lower the product pH, the lower the filling temperature can be. This is how pasta sauce manufacturers (who make many different type of jarred sauces at different pH levels) vary their filling temperature to improve line efficiencies/product quality. But you need to look at each product scenario individually in order to form accurate conclusions as to whether the 185*F, 1 min can be changed. 

 

Hope this helps. Good luck!

 

Hello,

 

Thank you very much and sorry for my delayed answer. I didn't notice your answer until now.

 

Best regards,



OrRedFood

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 05:32 PM

A site I worked at doing soups recently were hot filling with inversion initially, but we found the vacuum created on cooling was making the lids difficult to remove by the customer so we started using a six start cap and put an in line UV system between the unscrambler and the capper. We were filling at >75C if this helps. pH of product was right on the cusp (4.5 - 4.8) being predominantly tomato base, but the steam from the product was determined to sterilise the head space. Obviously shelf life validation helps alleviate any questions.

 

HCFtech - How did you determine that the steam from the product sterilized the head space? I'm curious if you presented this to a process authority/FDA/similar Food Regulation body for approval? We are also working on this.  We produce shelf stable jams, jellies, and sauces that are formulated to be <4.6 and cooking them to 190F for minimum 5 minutes prior to fill. We have lots of shelf life data and lack of customer complaints to validate our process . Thanks!



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Posted 10 September 2021 - 07:29 PM

This link should be your bible!

https://foodsafety.w...osing a Hot.pdf

 

Scientifically backed time/temps at 2 different ranges of pH

 

Jams and jellies are VERY different than sauces, the Brix matters a great deal when it comes to spoilage, almost as much as processing time

 

It also depends on how much headspace you are leaving, too big and you risk not getting it pasteurized, to small, and you risk not forming a good seal, which will invariably lead to spoilage

 

Nebraska state university has a lot of super info as does North Carolina University

 

Lack of complaints is not a valid addition to your scheduled process---and your shelf life info will only prove you had a good seal, which can be achieved easily while still under processing product

 

Case in point, I canned salsa last week at home, i wanted to put some into the fridge, so I reused last years seal and did NOT water bath, hot fill and hold, yep the jar sealed-----------would i put it in my basement till January with all the rest? Nope, not in a million years


Edited by Scampi, 10 September 2021 - 07:32 PM.

Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs


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Posted 10 September 2021 - 11:46 PM

Thank you, Scampi. We definitely use the document provided!  Our acidified foods all have process authority letters and we are in compliance with them, no worries. Our headspaces are standardized for each container size and formulation. Jams and jellies are managed under a different HACCP plan.  

 

My question was more as to whether there are any studies that validate steam/heat transfer to sterilize the headspace and lid instead of inversion of acidified foods.  If there are not and it's out of the question, I will let our owner know to put that idea to rest.  But if there are possibilities, we would like to learn about them to see if they are feasible for our operation. Otherwise, we will move on, and plan to invest in a pasteurizer when time and funds permit.    :) 



Scampi

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 01:07 PM

I cannot find anything.  The only item i ever omitted the inversion with was relish, but it had a brix of 21 and a pH of 4.1, and a miniscule headspace to sterilize while also maintaining a higher temperature for longer due to the density of the product.

 

I would reach out to North Carolina state university or Nebraska and ask them directly.............I had really good luck previously when reaching out for help  OR the processing authority who wrote you current process

 

It's probably cheaper to have the work done to get you a new scheduled process than it is to buy a pasteurizer, those suckers are expensive!!!!!!!


Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs


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