With the 2016 International Production & Processing Expo taking place this week in Atlanta, Food Manufacturing had the opportunity to correspond via email with Mark DiMaggio, Head of Food and Beverage at Linde, Americas, about the latest in advanced chilling technology for meat and poultry processing.
Q. Why are meat and poultry processors looking for alternatives to chilling with dry ice pellets right now?
A. There are several key drivers that are interrelated and that relate to productivity.
First, chilling with dry ice pellets is labor intensive and can produce inconsistent chilling temperatures. Moving pellet combos around the plant, as well as loading and unloading, all take time. These operations are often associated with high rates of worker injuries, as well as higher insurance costs and related worker compensation claims.
With pellets you are more likely to get temperature variations within the product which can impact quality and equilibration time. Of course, some plants have never used anything else. But whenever a processor expands its operations or significantly increases production volumes, process variations and other issues with existing chilling methods become apparent.
Second, food safety and quality are more important than ever. Rapidly achieving and maintaining cold temperatures is vital to control foodborne pathogens during processing. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a solid at minus 109 degrees F, and unlike traditional water ice, CO2 sublimes so it will never melt to damage food, or shipping cartons.
New requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) went into effect in August. Processors must manage the food safety of dry ice and food-contact gases as food ingredients, and pay close attention to their CO2 supply. The production, packaging, transportation, handling and storage of food-contact CO2, in all its forms, must now be fully documented at every step using Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Prevention Control (HARPC). Major producers of food and beverage grade gases certify production facilities to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards.
Q. What are some alternatives to purchasing dry ice pellets
A. On demand CO2 snow generation systems are a primary alternative because they provide processors greater control over productivity, improved quality, food safety, and labor costs. They change liquid CO2 into a stream of snow that can be channeled into boxes, combo bins, or mixers/blenders. These solutions can be implemented quickly, especially in plants that already store liquid CO2 on-site for use in cryogenic freezers or for advanced bottom-injection chilling systems for mixers/blenders.
Q. What is the productivity advantage?
A. With instant CO2 snow, all the challenges associated with buying, storing and handling dry ice can be eliminated. There is no waiting with on-demand CO2 snow generation systems. Because CO2 snow is generated instantly and only as needed, there is far less waste than with pellets, thus reduced operating costs. CO2 snow solutions can be installed for a single processing station, or multiple areas to improve productivity of chilling operations across the plant. Eliminating indoor ice storage also frees up space for more production.
Q. What about process consistency?
A. Automated CO2 snow generation systems take the guess work out of manual chilling methods for more consistent temperatures across the food product. Automation makes it possible to improve food process quality and production volume at the same time. And those improvements can go right to the bottom line.
Q. Can you give some examples that will be featured at IPPE 2016?
A. Here are two you can see at Linde booth #B5853:
- The DRI PACK® automated box chilling system quickly fills boxes (up to about 24 inches wide) with CO2 snow as they travel along a conveyor. We now offer a range of continuous inline automated box chilling solutions for meat packing plants as well as poultry and seafood packaging operations.
- The ACCU-CHILL® combo chiller automates loading and chilling cut poultry in combo bins (video). The patented system can process about 10,000-12,000 lbs. at a time, with a typical equipment payback of 6-12 months.
Q. What role does engineering play?
A. CO2 snow generating equipment should be professionally engineered and custom designed for maximizing productivity. CO2 nozzles must be sized to deliver a gentle flow of CO2 snow that minimizes cryogen use while maximizing BTU transfer across the food product.
At Linde, we take a system-wide engineering approach to every installation, so we make it easy to adopt and integrate technology into existing plant operations.”
Mark DiMaggio is a member of the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation, and has served on the technical and regulatory committee of the National Turkey Federation.