Colorado-based food processing and packaging technology provider 915 Labs has introduced a new microwave-assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) system, which it has claimed eliminates the need for excess salt and additives in the manufacture of food.
As part of MATS, packaged food is simultaneously heated from the outside in a pressurised hot water bath, and heated internally using a patented microwave energy delivery system at a frequency of 915MHz. This process rapidly heats the entire package of food to sterilization temperature, and eliminates pathogens and spoilage micro-organisms in a fraction of the time of conventional processing methods.
The system then quickly cools the food to minimise heat damage. Its development could pave the way for healthier eating and clean food labels, 915 Labels claimed.
The pilot-scale systems are currently operating in commercial test kitchens and the design and build of the company’s first full-scale system is under way, with anticipated installation at a food processing facility in North America next year.
915 Labs CEO and co-founder Mike Locatis said: “Conventional thermal processing was invented more than a century ago for all the right reasons, to remove pathogens from our food. But it also causes significant damage to the flavour, texture, colour and nutritional content of food. MATS natural food processing and packaging solutions provide a healthier, highly efficient and modern alternative to the old approach.”
Michael Hyche, principal at consulting firm Process Capability Partners, added: “MATS offers significant improvement in product quality and energy efficiency over legacy process technologies. Food colour, texture, flavour, and nutrition are better preserved through less over-heating.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023
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