Ready to eat food is being popular in our daily life, especially in Asia countries like Japan, Korea, Thailand, India..
So how are the "RTE" ready-to-eat meals processed and packed?
Retort packaging is a unique form of stand up pouch used for cook-in-a-bag meals and sides, such as soups, rice, sauces, and pasta dishes. The food-grade materials used to construct this type of packaging undergo a sterilization process that extends the shelf life of the product inside while boosting the durability of the package itself. After going through a retort machine, the food and package are able to withstand temperatures up to 250 degrees (121 Celsius), making this the perfect solution for microwavable meals.
Retortable flexible containers are laminate structures that are thermally processed like a can. The materials of the flexible containers provide superior barrier properties for a long shelf life, seal integrity, toughness, and puncture resistance and also withstand the rigors of thermal processing. Generally, any product currently packaged in cans or glass can be packaged in flexible containers. The retort pouch is perhaps the most significant advance in food packaging since the development of the metal can.
Retort pouch has many advantages for the food processor, distributor, retailer, and consumer.
Pouches take less time to reach sterilization temperature than cans or jars due to the thinner pouch profile and larger surface area per unit volume.
Pouch packed products are commercially sterile, do not require refrigeration, and are shelf-stable at room temperature.
Pouched products can be easily opened by tearing it across the top at a notch in the side seal.
Pouches weigh less than comparable cans or jars, thus reducing distribution costs.
Pouches, take up less storage space, etc.
When planning and designing a retort pouch line, Retorts are the critical components that shall be taken into account:
Retort Process- Sterilization with a pouch shall be accomplished with overpressure, there are three types of the overpressure retort which are commonly used: Full water immersion, Water spray, Forced steam/air (with fan).
Critical processing factors, which has been identified in the thermal processing of retort pouches, include pouch thickness, presence of residual gas, type of heating media, and operating pressure.
Full Water Immersion Retorts
Hot Water Spray Retorts
Steam& Air Retorts