(Editor’s Note: This is an online-only article attributed to the June/July 2017 issue.)
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Before the product even hits the shelves, packaging and processing facilities must be able to ensure that foods of all types can remain free of contaminants and potential spoilage before consumption.
While the packaging design itself is highly important in keeping products safe from contamination and spoilage, liquid foods need to be protected prior to that during the packaging process.
To make sure products remain safe at all times during packaging, utilize effective equipment throughout the process. In liquid food packaging lines, this includes using reliable liquid filling machines and other packaging equipment specifically designed to handle the product.
Choosing the Right Liquid Filler
Not all liquid food products are the same in consistency, and certain containers also require specific types of liquid filling equipment. It’s crucial to find the right piece of equipment that works for your product because you may otherwise wind up with an inefficient packaging line that results in wasted product and lost profits.
One of the key factors to consider is the viscosity of the liquid. The liquid filler used for your product needs to be compatible with liquids of the same viscosity. Certain types of liquid filling machines are designed to handle water-thin fluids, while others are more equipped to handle thicker to highly viscous products. Using the wrong machinery can result in inefficiency and product wastage that can subsequently cause loss of revenue or put customers at risk of foodborne illness.
There are several main types of liquid fillers to consider for packaging lines.
Gravity and pressure filling machines. These fillers are ideal for bottling nearly any water-thin to medium-viscosity liquid food product. While gravity fillers are useful for filling thin and foamy products, pressure/gravity fillers are better for handling thicker liquids.
Pump fillers. There are several different types of pump fillers that are capable of handling liquids of low to high viscosity in many different container designs. The different types of pump fillers include gear pumps, lobe pumps, rotor pumps, progressive cavity pumps, and more. Packaging experts can help determine which pump fillers and parts are suitable for your application, including fittings, valves, and other components.
Overflow fillers. Another type of liquid filling machine used for many types of liquid foods is the overflow filler, which is designed to provide consistent cosmetic fill levels. Products that might benefit most from these are low-viscosity liquids with small transparent containers that require the same fill level for each product.
With the right liquid filling machinery, you can maintain both efficiency and sanitation during the liquid packaging process. Contemporary liquid fillers also help minimize waste, with increased accuracy and precision. However, this isn’t the only equipment needed in your packaging lines to help prevent wastage and contamination.
Reliable capping machinery is necessary to ensure that all liquid food containers are properly sealed. Make sure the cappers in the packaging lines are compatible with your containers and can provide consistent results. Like liquid fillers, there are different types of cappers to take into consideration.
Capping systems can utilize automatic vertical wheel pluggers, chuck cappers, spindle cappers, and snap cappers, along with cap elevators, cap pre-feeders, or cap sorters to further increase overall efficiency. Each is designed to handle different kinds of caps and cap materials, making it crucial to find the right equipment for your application.
Meeting Food Safety Standards
Through the use of proper liquid packaging machinery, you can maintain efficiency and accuracy while meeting all EPA and FDA requirements regarding food safety. Remember, the equipment in your facility is as important as the container designs when it comes to maintaining your product. With the right packaging line, you’ll be able to avoid costly product wastage and keep products consistently safe from potential spoilage prior to selling.