Principle

Sterilization is a thermal process required to kill bacteria and produce shelf-stable food.

Sterilization:


This thermal process consists of three major phases:

    1° Come-up
    2° Cook
    3° Cool


This process is usually carried out by using overpressure control. Overpressure is used because the pressure inside the container increases for the following reasons:

  • Expansion of the food product
  • Increase of vapor pressure
  • Heating of air in headspace

The amount of compensation required by air overpressure depends on the following parameters:

  • Type of container
  • Strength of container
  • Fill conditions

We can distinguish 4 types of containers. Metal cans usually have strong walls. However thickness is variable. The strength of the can varies between 2-piece and 3 piece cans and the dimensions.  Glass jars need sterilization not only to inactivate bacteria but also to form a seal of compound in the cap. For these containers, headspace and initial vacuum are critical. Pouches usually are less resistant and may contain a sensitive heat seal. Plastic containers usually have a large headspace. Accurate matching of the pressure profile with internal pressure is critical.

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