Pasteurizing beverages helps to extend their shelf life and ensure their safety for consumption when they are sold. Tunnel pasteurization is a method that can be particularly effective for carbonated beverages.
The advantages of tunnel pasteurization for carbonated beverages are derived from its unique process.
Tunnel Pasteurization Process
Tunnel pasteurization differs from other methods in that it gradually treats products in a continuous flow, rather than aiming for a single target temperature all at once.
In tunnel pasteurization, bottled or canned products enter the tunnel and their temperature is raised through stages using hot water sprays.
At each stage, the product and container reach a target temperature and remain there long enough to eliminate specific microorganisms. Then, they move on to the next stage where the temperature is slightly higher, and so on until the desired maximum temperature is reached.
After reaching the desired maximum temperature, the product gradually cools down to room temperature. The entire process involves incremental temperature changes instead of rapidly reaching the highest temperature.
Palletization and Shipment
Once the product returns to room temperature, it is ready for labeling, boxing, and palletization.
Advantages of Tunnel Pasteurization for Carbonated Beverages
Tunnel pasteurization offers several benefits to breweries, food processing facilities, and other producers of carbonated beverages.
Tunnel pasteurization is compatible with most carbonated beverages, unlike methods such as hot filling that do not allow for the addition of CO2 due to excessive foaming.
Tunnel pasteurization allows for certain amounts of CO2 to be present in the beverage, providing an advantage over methods that do not allow any CO2.
Tunnel pasteurization can help prevent over-carbonation. Some microorganisms in beer, for example, can produce excess CO2, causing the beverage to burst when opened. Tunnel pasteurization eliminates these microbes, preventing such incidents.
Prolongs Shelf Life
Pasteurization extends the shelf life of carbonated beverages by eliminating microbes that cause fermentation or other forms of deterioration. This is particularly important for beverages like sodas, which have high sugar content.
Since these beverages may spend weeks or months on shelves, undergo lengthy transportation, and be stored in refrigerators or cupboards after purchase, it is essential to ensure they remain fresh through pasteurization.
Tunnel pasteurization can be utilized for products in fragile packaging, such as glass bottles or aluminum cans. The gradual process avoids sudden temperature changes that could damage the packaging, leading to shattered glass or burst cans, especially when the product is heated.
By handling pasteurization gradually, tunnel pasteurization ensures a reliable process that can accommodate continuous flows of packaged carbonated beverages.
Implementing Tunnel Pasteurization in Your Facility
When to Use Tunnel Pasteurization for Carbonated Beverages
Tunnel pasteurization is suitable for mass-produced beverages that are continuously produced and bottled. Adding a tunnel pasteurizer to the production line allows for pasteurization without interrupting the flow of production.
Consider the Cost
Tunnel pasteurizers generally have higher costs compared to hot-fill systems. Therefore, they are best suited for production lines that would benefit from the cost-saving advantages of continuous processing.
If the product is typically produced in batches, tunnel pasteurization may not be worth the expense.
Fine-Tune Your Equipment
Improper implementation and calibration of a tunnel pasteurizer can result in inconsistent quality and negative impacts on flavor. Therefore, it is crucial to have your system designed and built by trusted industry experts.
For carbonated beverages, it is important to consider the appropriate amount of CO2 to introduce before pasteurization to avoid potential issues. Ensure that your system is suitable for the beverages you produce.
Design by Professionals
If you are considering implementing a tunnel pasteurizer in your carbonated beverage production process, seek experienced professionals to design and build the system. The temperature levels and timing of the system must be tailored to your beverages while aligning with your production line’s flow. Trust only reliable designers and fabricators for this process.