PD_Packaging Digest

Packaging Digest Directory, 2015/2016

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Page 39 of 131

40 NEW TECHNOLOGY // summer 2015 www.PackagingDigest.com Food packaging identifed for new MATS processing Microwave assisted therMal sterilization improves on retorting by minimizing time-temperature requirements to produce healthier foods and cleaner labels. Rick Lingle, Technical Editor It isn't every day that a new thermal processing method comes along, but that rare day occurred in June when 915 Labs (www.915labs.com) announced plans for the frst full-scale Microwave Assisted Termal Sterilization (MATS) system that's on order for installation at a North American food processing facility. MATS is an alternative to retort processing that requires food to be vacuum-packed in a can or pouch and placed in a pressurized cooker at temperatures above 250 degrees for as long as an hour. "Conventional thermal processing also causes signifcant damage to the favor, texture, color and nutritional content of food," says Mike Locatis, co- founder and CEO, 915 Labs. "MATS natural food processing and packaging solutions from 915 Labs provide a healthier, highly efcient and modern alternative to the old approach." MATS natural food processing technology and packaging from 915 Labs creates the possibility of a wide range of healthful, packaged, shelf-stable foods — from tender spears of asparagus to spicy Indian dishes to gourmet foodstufs — each with a "clean" or additive-free label. MATS-processed foods have a wide range of potential uses apart from branded consumer packaged foods, including meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) for armed forces and rations distributed by humanitarian agencies to third-world countries plagued by famine and food waste. With MATS natural food processing, packaged food is simultaneously immersed in pressurized hot water and heated directly by 915 megahertz (MHz) frequency microwaves. Microwave energy can continued to be added to the packaged food above the water temperature. two pilot installations Pilot-scale versions of 915 Labs' microwave sterilization system, called the MATS-B (for batch), are already in place at two contract processing and packaging companies, AmeriQual (www.ameriqual.com), Evansville, IN, and Wornick Foods (www.wornick.com), Cincinnati, OH. The MATS-B system has about 30 x 15 ft footprint and outputs 50-100 packages per hour. In addition to conducting their own product development with the MATS-B, AmeriQual and Wornick are allowing outside food companies to schedule time in their food labs to test new recipes using the new sterilization system. The MATS-B systems are available for immediate order, and are intended for use in consumer-packaged good product development labs for recipe development, process development, food safety validation, and consumer sample production. Te company is also adding a smaller capacity MATS system for 2016, a MATS-50, for 50 packages per minute as well as a pasteurization-only machine planned for 2016. 915 Labs' frst full-scale commercial system, the MATS-150, has been ordered and will be delivered to a major U.S. customer in 2017. Locatis said additional orders for the MATS-150, which is capable of processing 150 10.5oz food packages per minute, are pending around the world. Te system has a footprint of about 150 x 15 ft, depending on options. MATS-processed food has a wide range of potential uses apart from branded consumer packaged foods, including meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) for armed forces and rations distributed by humanitarian agencies to third world countries plagued by famine and food waste. Te technology was born in the labs of Washington State University that also owns the patent, of which 915 Labs is the exclusive licensee of that and related patents. at 10 to 15 minutes, Mats is a much shorter and gentler process than retorting, which takes about an hour. The packaging that is appropriate for MATS includes high-barrier plastic pouches, trays and lidding. The benchmark barrier polymer for rigid trays such as these—and up to a half-steam-table size—is ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH). Continued on page 42

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