Aseptic processing and packaging is the filling of commercially-sterilized products into pre-sterilized containers. (1) Commercially-sterile, cooled product is processed separately from the packaging. (2) Incoming packaging is sterilized independently from the product. (3) Packaging is filled and hermetically sealed with a pre-sterilized closure in an atmosphere free of microorganisms (refer to diagram below).
The aseptic process allows food to retain nutritional value, flavors and texture throughout its shelf-life, providing a quality product to the end user.
Hot-fill processing fills heated, commercially-sterile product in non-sterile packaging. The product is held for a predetermined time and temperature in order to sterilize the packaging prior to the filling process. The longer hold time at high temperatures reduces quality of the product. Only high-acid products can be hot-filled and held at ambient temperatures without refrigeration.
Retort processing fills non-sterile product in hermetically-sealed, non-sterile packaging. The packaging is loaded into a retort pressure vessel and subjected to pressurized steam. The product is also exposed to high temperatures for a much longer period than in hot-filling. The additional time can significantly deteriorate the overall quality and nutritional content of the product.
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