GFNC said to guarantee macadamia food safety with Napasol pasteurisation technology

South Africa-based Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC) has announced its investment into foremost Napasol pasteurisation technology, to meet and surpass current and future food safety requirements in key export destinations around the world. This decision underscores the organisations ongoing commitment to deliver best in class quality product to its customers, as well as secure value for their supply base of producers and farmers.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), globalisation, urbanisation and changing consumer habits has resulted in a longer and increasingly complex global food supply chain. These challenges put greater responsibility on food producers and handlers to ensure food safety. The WHO urges building and maintaining focus on adequate food systems and infrastructures, like laboratories and legal frameworks, as well as multi-sectoral collaboration between governments and stakeholders through the value chain.

“GFNC is extremely pleased to be in the position to proactively take responsibility for our role in the ongoing and inevitable changes taking place in the food industry at large, and macadamia sector more specifically. This decision is a crucial part of our strategy to continue growing and refining processing capability. In so doing retain value add capacity and supply chain accountability at source in South Africa,” said Allen Duncan, CEO, GFNC.

Approximately 25 per cent of South Africa’s macadamias are processed by GFNC. Together with its processing partner network, spanning Australia, Brazil, Malawi and Kenya, the groups marketing business, Green & Gold Macadamias sells roughly 20% of the world’s crop in key territories around the globe. This purchase represents the initial move to making further investment into technology that warrants compliance with increasing microbiological safety standards and global access to highly regulated markets.

The Napasol process ensures 100 per cent of the treated product is pasteurised to a >5log level of reduction of pathogens and is regarded as the market leader in pasteurization equipment for tree nuts. Efficient microbiological reduction is obtained with dry saturated steam, which is natural, effective, and maintains the raw characteristics of the nut. The batch process, which is validated for >5log reduction in pathogens for all tree nuts, meets the risk assessment reduction levels published. The process also preserves the flavour, colour and texture of the raw kernel.

“This outlay will sustain bullish market access for the business, provide the best quality product to our customers, and provide the opportunity to achieve the best possible prices for our farmers. Together with buffering our producers from potential knock-on effects of macadamias that do not meet food safety legislation,” said Jill Whyte, chairperson and owner, GFNC.

The Napasol is planned for installation at the White River factory in the second half of 2020 and should be operational for the remaining 2020 processing cycle. GFNC will have capacity to assist competitor processors with their pasteurisation needs until the decision is taken to invest in their own technology to support market and customer requirements.

Debunking the myths about food pasteurisation

Pasteurisation has been established as a key method of destroying pathogenic bacteria in the food and drink industry since is invention in the middle of the nineteenth century, although the origins of heating wine for preservation go back to China in the 1100s. However, as food and drink processing becomes more complex and food chains longer, the importance of pasteurisation has increased.

At the same time, the technology has also improved, with developments in the equipment used for both  for High Temperature, Short Time (HTST) and Low Temperature, Long Time (LTLT) methods. While simple plate heat exchangers may still be suitable for the pasteurisation of simple fluids such as milk and fruit juices, more textured and viscous products, such as cooking sauces, creams and curds will require different solutions in order to maintain their quality and texture. Here we dispel seven popular myths about food pasteurisation

Myth 1: Pasteurisation is expensive
While the exact costs will vary with each installation, there is no doubt that there is a capital cost to pasteurisation. However,  compared with the potential losses due to food spoilage, or worse, a food safety incident, these costs are insignificant. In the US, the costs of recalling food products have been shown to average $10 million, before accounting for brand damage. Closer to home, microbial contamination resulted in 59 product recalls in Australia between 2014 and 2016. Furthermore, Food Standards Australia New Zealand reports that  Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and  E. coli are the three micro-organisms most commonly associated with microbial food recalls in Australia, while those products most recalled are meat and dairy items.

Against these potential costs, the capital cost of a corrugated tube heat exchanger based pasteurisation system is a sound investment. Alongside the capital costs, the running costs of a pasteurisation unit need to be considered. Heat exchangers and  pasteurisation units made by HRS Heat Exchangers are designed to reduce fouling and maintenance, while our wide range of heat recovery options mean that energy costs are kept to a minimum.

Myth 2: Pasteurisation is too complex
Pasteurisation itself is a relatively simple process. It requires that a material is held for a certain time at a certain temperature in order to kill micro-organisms. There is no doubt that pasteurisation adds an additional step into the overall manufacturing process, but if well-designed it should not slow down throughput or place additional management burdens on the plant. The use of continuous pasteurisation systems mean that the process is simple and the potential for product damage or change in quality is minimised.

Myth 3: Pasteurisation is only suitable for simple fluid materials
Pasteurisation can be used on a wide variety of liquid and semi-liquid materials. While simple Newtonian fluids will be the easiest to work with, and can often be effectively pasteurised with a simple plate heat exchanger, there are solutions for almost any material. HRS innovations, such as the use of corrugated tube and scraped surface heat exchangers, means the company can deal with anything from viscous fluids requiring gentle handling or with low rates of heat transfer, to complex mixtures, such as curd cheese, which could otherwise foul the heat exchanger, reducing thermal efficiency and requiring regular cleaning and  maintenance.

Myth 4: Pasteurisation requires a lot of energy
The amount of energy used in food pasteurisation is highly variable depending on the process used, the nature of the material being treated and the heat exchanger used. The bulk of any energy requirement is used to raise the temperature of the foodstuff.

Traditional pasteurisation units simply dump this heat afterwards, meaning they are incredibly wasteful and inefficient. Where possible, HRS heat exchangers recapture the heat and use it again, making them up to 70 per cent more efficient than some traditional systems.

Myth 5: Pasteurisation equipment is high maintenance
The use of corrugated tubes, together with integrated cleaning-in-process (CIP), minimises the amount of fouling and therefore the amount of cleaning necessary to maintain the efficiency of HRS pasteurisation systems. The careful design of static tubes also helps keep down production (and therefore purchase) costs.

Myth 6: You cannot pasteurise viscous fluids
Subjecting viscous and non-Newtonian fluids, such as cooking sauces, to shear stress during the manufacturing process can damage  the quality and texture of the material, which may preclude the use of certain designs of heat exchanger for pasteurisation. However, by choosing a system such as the HRS Unicus scraped surface heat exchanger, which prevents fouling while maintaining  relatively low pressure, such unwanted effects can be overcome.

Myth 7: Pasteurisation is the same as sterilisation
Unlike sterilisation, pasteurisation does not completely eliminate micro-organisms which may be present in the foodstuff. Pasteurisation reduces the microbial load by a significant factor (for example by 5-logs), which in normal circumstances reduces contaminating pathogens to a level at which they do not pose a hazard. Pasteurisation need not be overly onerous or detrimental to the quality of the product. Certainly, with the correct choice of equipment, pasteurisation does not need to have a negative effect on plant throughput or efficiency and a well-designed system incorporating heat regeneration and corrugated tubes should enhance the overall facility, helping to add flexibility to your business.

In-shell pasteurisation reintroducing eggs into commercial kitchens

Food safety is always of the upmost priority in the hospitality trade, however something as simple as an unsafe egg anywhere in a food preparation area can put an entire business at risk.

A single egg with Salmonella can contaminate work surfaces as far away as 40cm, leaving bacteria that persist for 24 hours. Australia has the highest incident rate of Salmonella outbreaks in the developed world and most of those occurrences arise from the mishandling of eggs within the supply chain.

Commercial kitchens who work with or use egg products are at financial and reputational risk, with restaurateurs, caterers and food service suppliers, potentially exposing customers, aged care residents, hospital patients and tourists to the risks of preventable food poisoning.

Alasya Restaurant and Takeaway was recently fined $80,000 after 135 diners suffered mass Salmonella poisoning and Sylvania Bakery was fined $122,000 after 200 people became ill due to Salmonella.

New research by Australian Pasteurised Eggs (APE) found eight in ten (83 per cent) people will not visit a restaurant that has been fined for food poisoning, whether or not they had ever dined there themselves. For less than 20c. per plate, businesses can protect themselves from both reputational damage and substantial fines by moving to pasteurised shell eggs.

While food-borne illness can affect anyone, the research found that one in three (33 per cent) Australians are especially vulnerable to food-borne illnesses caused by pathogens such as Salmonella. Food safety and quality advocate, Gabrielle Thoreau tells us more about the risks, “People most susceptible are the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, people with poor nutrition, kidney or liver disease and those currently undergoing cancer treatment.”

“Under current legislation, food businesses must cook with and serve pasteurised products. Until now, this has meant kitchens have had to use products such as liquid whole egg pulp, which sacrifice on flavour and culinary versatility,” says Thoreau.

However, newly available whole-egg, in-shell pasteurisation can now assure of safety against Salmonella in the egg supply chain, with raw or undercooked recipe versatility. Salmonella is only eradicated in the cooking process when eggs reach temperatures in excess of 63-7˚C scrambled eggs are potentially putting their patrons as risk.

The technology used by Australian Pasteurised Eggs ensures eggs are free from risk of Salmonella by removing 99.999 per cent of the bacteria. The pasteurised eggs extend shelf life to 90 days while also preserving the full flavour, texture and appearance.

Thoreau says, “Pasteurising an egg starts with freshly laid shell eggs from approved, certified and inspected farms. The process involves submerging eggs into moving water baths using precise time and temperature zones to pasteurise and kill the bacteria. They are then coated with food grade wax to further protect the outer shell.

“For a long time, eggs have been taken off the menu due to the risks or replaced with a substitute like liquid pulp. This new technology is a game changer for the hospitality industry as it allows people to enjoy runny eggs again, without the concern of becoming sick,” says Gabrielle Thoreau.

Seven out of ten foodborne illness outbreaks originate in food service operations, it is therefore especially important to trust your supply chain in preventing the transfer of contaminated eggs.

Squeezing the myths on OJ pasteurisation

Despite recent declines in demand, the Australian orange juice market is forecast to be worth almost US$5621 million this year as 5 million people drinks their way through 4.6 glasses a week2. In fact, orange juice still accounts for around two-thirds of the total juice market3. While sales of UHT orange juice have fallen among older consumers, younger people are actually buying more with sales from juice bars and of premium products rising2. With chilled products in particular attracting premium customers, the most effective technique to help satisfy discerning consumers is ‘flash pasteurisation.’

With or without pulp, the challenge for manufacturers of fresh orange juice is the speed at which the flavour and quality alters and deteriorates after the orange is squeezed. Like any fruit, oranges are perishable commodities and need to be pasteurised to stop the product spoiling. If there is to be an acceptable shelf life, the juice has to be pasteurised to destroy microorganisms and stop enzymatic activity.

There are various ways to delay these chemical changes. At HRS Heat Exchangers, thermal treatment, also known as ‘flash pasteurisation’, is the preferred technique for making premium quality juice. “Oranges are complex fruits,” explains Matt Hale, International Sales and Marketing Director at HRS. “The flavour and quality is determined by hundreds of compounds, among them limonene, pectin methylesterase (PME), hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). What’s more, the exact composition varies according to the type of orange, climatic conditions and ripeness when picked.”

Chemical changes begin to occur as soon as juice is squeezed. Some compounds react with oxygen in the air; others are affected by enzymes that are released during squeezing. With oranges containing natural yeasts, squeezing triggers fermentation which results in the multiplication of any bacteria present.

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Critics of pasteurisation argue that the process destroys the flavour of juice and alters the nutritional value. However, by minimising the thermal treatment time, HRS is assisting juice production plants to optimise juice quality and taste.

The HRS series of MI/MR Pasteurisers uses a food-grade multi-tube corrugated tube heat exchanger to speed up the heat transfer in pasteurisation systems. These corrugated tubes create extra turbulence in the fluid as it flows through the tubes.

Matt explains more: “The result of this extra turbulence means that the orange juice can be heated up to pasteurisation temperature much faster – typically by up to 30%. Critically, heat velocity should be carefully considered because the longer it takes the greater the effect on the product and quality will deteriorate. The temperature of the heating media can affect quality too – the hotter the heating media, the more damage the hot tubes inside the pasteuriser will have on product quality.”

Because of the high heat transfer rates of the corrugated tube technique, HRS’s pasteurisation systems use water at a lower temperature to reduce the risk of product damage. Another benefit of higher heat transfer rates is that system footprint can be reduced using shorter heat exchanger pipes. The shorter length of the heat exchanger also results in a reduction in pressure drop, which saves pumping power and further reduces energy costs – often by 40%.

System lifespan is also greater using the HRS technology. The corrugated design/profile of the inner tube helps reduce product fouling – it disrupts the fluid boundary layer and creates higher velocity and turbulence – as the juice travels around the system it’s less likely to stick to the tube wall causing corrosion and lack of performance (leading to increased downtime and maintenance costs, expensive replacement parts and reduced system lifespan).

In the system, water carrying the recycled heat energy travels in the space between the inner and outer tubes and flows in the opposite direction to the juice. The fact that the two liquids are travelling in opposite directions boosts the maximum amount of heat transfer due to a mechanism called counter-current exchange as Matt explains: “Counter-current creates a declining difference in temperature (helping heat transfer) whereas in concurrent (where heated and heating elements are side by side, as in a tank and jacket system) the initial difference is higher but quickly levels off. The HRS system pumps the juice and heating and cooling water around the exchanger, which further boosts the maximum heat transfer achievable.”

NOTES
1 Statistica. https://www.statista.com/outlook/20030100/107/orange-juice/australia
2 Roy Morgan Research Institute. https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7023-fruit-juice-brands-fighting-for-shrinking-market-except-nudie-201610250954
3 Statistica and IBIS World (https://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry-trends/market-research-reports/manufacturing/beverage-tobacco-product/fruit-juice-drink-manufacturing.html)