In brief thermal pasteurisation is generally the process of heating food to a specific temperature and for a set time that will kill certain but not all bacteria, when used in conjunction with the right packaging this process can provide a much longer refrigerated shelf life.
The pasteurisation process differs from sterilisation which refers to a much higher temperature process which will render a product “sterile”, but can often also have the detrimental effect of denaturing the food and therefore undermining the products “eat-ability”.
When assessing the practicality of a product to be pasteurised then there are certain factors to consider such as:
- Required refrigerated shelf life
- Components (ingredients) that make up the product and how they will react to other components within a dish through the pasteurisation process
- Desired packaged presentation
- Required minimum pasteurisation temperature and times for differing food types
- The ability to verify the thermal processing of a product to ensure correct core temperatures are reached and maintained as well as correct cooling parameters are met
- Ability to maintain a correct refrigerated storage temperature
- How the end user will reheat or use the product
- Microbiological parameters and validation requirements
Thermal Pasteurisation can take differing forms a couple of examples of these are as follows:
- Product is heated in a vessel to the correct pasteurisation temperature and time, then filled into a container or bag at a set minimum temperature and sealed, then rapidly cooled.
- Product is placed either cooked or uncooked into a CPET tray or vacuum bag, vacuum sealed to remove as much atmosphere as possible then cooked and pasteurised for a set time and temperature once the required core temperature is met and pasteurisation process complete, the product is then rapidly cooled.