Columns

Engineering R&D: Move over, retort

February 1, 2010
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
The math of commercial cost and consumer willingness to pay remains to be calculated, but in-container sterilization with microwaves already has achieved several milestones.


Researchers at Washington State University used a 40 KW pilot-scale microwave system to produce sterile, low-acid foods. Source: Washington State University.


Juming Tang, professor of food engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA. Source: Washington State University

Scientific proof of the consistency and reliability of new processing technologies has stopped cold more than one novel process with the potential to improve the taste and nutritional quality of food. When the FDA recently approved a microwave sterilization process for prepackaged mashed potatoes that will remain safe at ambient temperatures, researchers at Washington State University (WSU) achieved what several novel processes had failed to do: they validated to regulators that they could deliver a safe product with an unconventional process.

The WSU system was patented in 2006, and a 76-by-12 ft. pilot unit went into service soon after in the pilot plant at WSU’s Pullman, WA campus, processing salmon fillets and other low-acid foods. But developing a computer-vision method based on chemical-marker formation to determine the cold spot in trays being conveyed through the system required a combination of perseverance and good fortune. With October’s FDA approval, the project entered a new phase, as investment groups and equipment builders began exploring commercialization opportunities.

In the meantime, the WSU team led by Professor Juming Tang continues to optimize the design and prepare FDA filings for additional products. Tang has taught food engineering at WSU since 1995, following similar academic duties at South Dakota State University and Canada’s Acadia University. Since 2001, he has served as director of the Microwave Sterilization Research and Development Consortium, which includes Kraft, Hormel, Rexam Containers and the US Department of Defense. Tang earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at Central-South University of Technology in Hunan, China, before studying in Canada, receiving a master’s degree at University of Guelph and a PhD in agricultural engineering at the University of Saskatchewan.


FE: Describe the microwave system’s design.

Tang: We use single-mode microwave energy and concepts found in a conventional retort: recirculated water spray in a pressurized vessel and an environment where you raise the temperature close to 250

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Kevin Higgins, Senior Editor

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

TYSON FOODS

Tyson Foods made headlines announcing the company intends to acquire Hillshire Brands in a deal valued at $8.55 billion. Do you think the acquisition for will be beneficial for meat and poultry processors?
View Results Poll Archive

Food Engineering

July 2014

2014 July

The July 2014 issue of Food Engineering features the 12th Annual Replacement Parts Survey. Also covered: OEE improvement steps and increased filtration cycle.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +