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Developing an appetite for steam

20 September 2021

Jamie Walker, Manufacturing Manager at the Natural Fruit & Beverage Co, explains how Spirax Sarco opened his eyes to the use of clean steam in food packing processes. 

Working in the food industry brings with it a diverse range of challenges to remain one step-ahead of the competition and cut through the noise in a crowded market. One way that Spirax Sarco works with its customers is to help identify areas of improvement in the quality of products and processes. 

This was especially true for one of its key customers who was looking to enhance the quality of its baby fruit puree sachet pouches to win future supermarket contracts. Jamie Walker, Manufacturing Manager at the Natural Fruit & Beverage Co., explains how Spirax Sarco opened his eyes to the use of clean steam in food packing processes.

“Before Spirax was approached, we were making use of CO2 for purging and cleaning excessive residue before capping the end product. However, in today’s market, this was proving to be costly with no further room for improvement – so had to change.

“A number of industry peers suggested I look into using steam as an alternative to CO2. The more I spoke with others in the industry, the more I realised that there is a common misconception around the use of steam in food processing applications and I soon discovered there was far more to understand than simply opting for any type of steam. I needed some help to point me in the right direction.

“I contacted Spirax Sarco and asked them to explain to myself and the management team the various types of steam including the concept of clean steam as an ingredient and how it positively applies to a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). The presentation was enlightening. I had no idea that consistency in taste, colour and quality of the end product could be influenced by the type of steam chosen. My initial assumption was that the best solution would be to use a cost-effective filtration process.

“My assumption was challenged by the experts at Spirax Sarco and it made me realise rather than using a filtration process to extract particulates, I should turn my attention to the production of clean steam by making use of a secondary steam generator with the ability to control chemical-free feedwater quality.

“Equipped with this new-found information and the confidence that Spirax Sarco knew the subject well enough, the choice was clear – we would introduce clean steam in the packing process. We went ahead and installed an electric compact clean steam generator 50 kW (50kg/hr at 3 bar) with preheating capability and the ability to control feedwater quality.

Following the installation of the clean steam generator, my understanding of how the steam system is working has greatly improved. The regular site visits from Spirax Sarco have certainly helped with this. The use of clean steam was definitely the way forward for us and our key customer”.

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