Ask the Expert: Pilot testing and training at food processing and technology centers

Parma products

JBT FoodTech has food processing and technology centers located across the globe. The centers provide customers the opportunity to work side by side with food technologists and equipment specialists to research technology, optimize processes and analyze final products.

In late 2009, a new JBT FoodTech center opened in Parma, Italy, with the thermal processing capacity of 4,400 pounds/hour (2,000 kg/h). This new pilot plant is equipped with a fruit and vegetable aseptic system, tuna cooking machines and a laboratory facility. Antonio Aldini, R&D manager for the Parma pilot plant, answers questions about pilot testing and advanced technical assistance for puree extraction and aseptic processing.

Q: Can pilot testing identify cost savings for food processors?
A: Yes. Technologists work with customers and on their own to conduct pilot testing, helping to determine the most effective and efficient ways to treat products. A recent study on tropical fruit puree deaeration and pasteurization, for example, concluded that aseptic processing is a more convenient and cost-effective solution for product storage and distribution than frozen processes. Another example is the utilization of the tuna pilot cooker and cooler to investigate and assess performance and yield in cooking different tuna varieties that are of particular interest to the industry.

Q: What are the benefits of thermal process validation in-lab?
A: The Parma Food Lab process validation setup allows for real-time analysis of thermal treatment evaluation in-lab so specialists can collect equipment performance data in a secured environment. For example, specialists can analyze the aseptic treatment of products with particulates by monitoring thermal treatment, uniformity in particles’ cold spot, mechanical and thermal damage control and maintainability of mixing ratio.

When conducting in-lab evaluation, products can be tested on alternative technologies to determine if the quality of the product improves. For example, the Parma Food Lab features a fluid pasteurization plant with alternative technologies installed that can connect to both the JBT FoodTech SPACE™ aseptic filler as well as the traditional Imperial filler. The SPACE Aseptic technology offers multiple advantages for pasteurizing products with fruit or vegetable particles because of its capability to fill and thermally treat, both high or low acid products with particulates up to 20mm in length.

Although there are many benefits to in-lab testing, specialists also are available to perform validation tests on-site at customer locations to verify proper functionality of the whole plant with a trial on actual production.

Q: Does equipment operation and management play a role in process improvement?
A: Preventive maintenance, proper operation and overall line management are crucial not only to producing a quality product, but also to the efficiency and profitability of the entire plant. Equipment specialists at the Parma Food Lab provide consulting services for a HACCP plan applied on a JBT FoodTech processing line or individual equipment, as well as plans, procedures and feasibility studies to improve quality assurance in actual production.

Processing customers can receive in-depth training on start-up and troubleshooting, critical control points and CIP procedures as well as overview training on extraction lines, aseptic processing and system operation, thermal treatment principles and deaeration.

To learn more about the Process Technology Laboratory and Services facility in Parma, visit the JBT FoodTech website

Do you have a food processing question that you would like a JBT FoodTech expert to address in the next issue of FoodTech Report? Submit your question.

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About JBT
JBT (NYSE: JBT) is a leading technology solutions provider to the food processing and air transportation industries. We design, manufacture, test and service technologically sophisticated systems and products for regional and multi-national industrial food processing customers through our JBT FoodTech segment and for domestic and international air transportation customers through our JBT AeroTech segment. For more information please visit