Food Engineering

EPA approval could kick-start PET aseptic containers

March 1, 2007


PET bottles go through the rinse cycle on a filling line from Procomac Industries. EPA approval of an alternative sterilizing solution should increase the potential for PET containers in aseptic filling. Source: Procomac Spa.


A six-year project to win US EPA approval for a new commercial sterilant suitable for PET bottles reached a successful conclusion October 30 for Ecolab Inc. The St. Paul, MN-based sanitation firm now is petitioning state EPA offices and hopes to win approval in California and other key jurisdictions by the third quarter.
The sterilant, Enviro San, combines a peroxyacetic acid solution with ES-1000, an agent that helps wet the inside surface of a bottle, thereby reducing the amount of antimicrobial solution being applied. Trace amounts of ES-1000 remain after rinsing, and Ecolab had to devise a testing protocol for EPA to validate the amount and its efficacy. The chemical is used in the medical field, but devising a test for food products was a challenge and the biggest obsctacle in gaining approval.
“The Europe-based filler companies are very excited about the EPA clearance,” says Kimberly Underwood, Ecolab’s vice president of dairy and beverage marketing. “This type of sterilant is used elsewhere, and they’ve been wanting to get into the US market.”
The new sterilant also should help lower aseptic processors’ operating costs: peroxide-based compounds have to be applied at 85