Filling technology for long shelf life at ambient temperatures

Liquid nutritional formula products are typically milk-based drinks that contain additional nutritional supplementation to address specific health or dietary needs. These drinks commonly have low levels of acidity, and the molecular structure of their ingredients may be sensitive to light and oxygen, which can affect organoleptic properties.

PET and HDPE bottles are ideal containers for liquid nutritional formula drinks. The bottles must be sterilized before filling to reduce the risk of microbiological contamination and to ensure product safety. The sterilization process prevents changes to organoleptic properties and preserves stability for the complete shelf life of the product, which can then be distributed at ambient temperatures.

Liquid nutritional formula

GEA offers aseptic blowing & filling technologies for PET and HDPE bottles, based on either peracetic acid (PAA) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) sterilization. Our systems are configured to ensure optimal container sterility, filling and capping, without affecting product quality. By keeping all the critical points of the process under fine control GEA’s aseptic technologies give our customers confidence that their filling lines will process safe, stable, fresh-tasting dairy-based liquid nutritional formula products that are free from microbiological contamination.

GEA’s range of hydrogen peroxide vapor (VHP)-based sterilization technologies for blowing & filling processes include the Whitebloc platform to treat HDPE/PET bottles, the ABF platform for PET preforms, and the Sterilcap VHP R and Sterilcap VHP L platforms for plastic caps. Our peracetic acid-based solutions are founded on the ECOSpin2 Zero and Modulbloc platforms for HDPE/PET containers, and the Sterilcap IM system for plastic caps.

Whitebloc has been specifically developed for the liquid dairy industry and, along with all GEA aseptic filling systems, features precise analysis and monitoring of critical control points. This helps to optimize the sterilization process, improve sterilization efficacy and reliability, and reduce manual intervention.

The FDA-approved GEA ABF 1.2 system features a microbiological isolator that protects the working area from any external source of contamination. The system aseptically blows preforms that have been pretreated with hydrogen peroxide vapor (VHP). The sterile bottles are filled and capped without leaving the sterile environment, resulting in a single zone sterilization process that requires no water and only very low use of chemicals.
 
PAA-based sterilization solutions from GEA include the ECOSpin2 system for high-speed lines and Modulbloc platform for low/medium speed production. Both FDA-approved systems use a single PAA sterilizing solution to treat both the inside and outside of the containers simultaneously, as well as the cap. The penetrating nozzle used for internal bottle sterilization generates a high pressure PAA solution spray that effectively decontaminates the ‘cold spot’ in inoculated bottles. This combination of chemical and mechanical action on the upside-down bottles means that the GEA PAA-based technology is our most flexible in terms of decontamination performance.

GEA’s aseptic systems can operate to a wide range of decontamination target levels – up to 6 log on B.atrophaeus. They are also suitable for either high acid (HA) or low acid (LA) applications, and offer continuous aseptic production runs of up to 165 hours without the need for intermediate cleaning and sterilization cycles.