By Chad Vilinskis, Former VP of Operations, BevSource
With growing demand for natural, fresher tasting products, beverage brand owners have turned to Flash Pasteurization, Aseptic/Extended Shelf Life (ESL) Filling, and High Pressure Processing (HPP) to extend the shelf life of their products.
1. Flash Pasteurization
Flash Pasteurization is a form of High Temperature, Short Time (HTST) pasteurization that has gained popularity in recent years. Liquid is brought to a higher temperature than Hot Filling for a shorter amount of time (usually 15-30 seconds), then rapidly cooled before being filled into the aseptic packaging.
- Maintaining color and flavor better than other HTST methods.
- Effective for milk products, kegged beer, and juice/puree based products.
- Fewer manufacturing facilities have this capability.
- Expensive compared to Tunnel Pasteurization and Hot Filling.
- Risks killing non-pathogenic, beneficial micros.
2. Aseptic/Extended Shelf Life (ESL) Filling
Like Hot Filling, Aseptic Filling sterilizes the liquid by heat prior to being filled. However, the packaging is sterilized separately, allowing the liquid to be filled at a lower temperature. Aseptic Filling requires close coordination and complex interactions between personnel, sterilized product, filling equipment, and cleanroom practices to insure a sanitary product.
- Allows for different packaging types, including pouches and juice boxes that cannot be tunnel pasteurized or hot filled.
- Beverages can potentially be labeled as “natural.” Additional requirements must be met.
- The equipment and personnel require significant investment
- Limited contract packers have this capability.
3. High Pressure Processing
High Pressure Processing (HPP) does not use heat. Instead, HPP applies a large amount of pressure to preserve the product. The product is packaged in a flexible container and put into a high-pressure chamber that applies as much as 87,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) for typically 3-5 minutes.
- Maintains a beverage’s taste, color, and nutrition better than heat pasteurization methods, providing better “fresh-like” characteristics
- Does not require heat to kill micros
- Meets clean label requirements
- Limits packaging options.
- Slows production processing time down, leading to longer production times and higher costs.
In Part III of our Beverage Preservation 101 series, we will discuss chemical methods of preservation:
- Chemical Compounds
Looking for more information on beverage preservation? Check out Part I: Tunnel Pasteurization vs. Hot Filling