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Showcase: Product Shelf Life Extension

New Retail Containers for Fresh-cut Fruit and Vegetables – Technology Delivers 10- to 14-Day Shelf Life
A new line of retail packaging products for fresh-cut fruit and vegetables that promises a minimum of 10-14 days shelf life has been announced by Maxwell Chase Technologies, LLC, Atlanta, Ga.

The company’s food safe absorbent technology (FDA approved) is incorporated safely and securely in the lid, according to Bill Brander, company founder and president.

Maxwell Chase Technologies has been successfully using its technology to extend shelf life for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables for more than 10 years, and this is the first range of products which are specifically targeted at the retail segment.

In addition to providing a significant extension in shelf life, the packaging has the added advantage of absorbing any excess fluids which avoids dripping and spillage, common complaints from consumers. The products are available in the following sizes: Cups: 9-, 12- and 20-fluid ounces; Containers: 8-, 12-, 16-, 24- and 32-fluid ounces.

These new “Fresh-R-Pax®” containers are ideal for fresh-cut items like melons, pineapple, strawberries and other mixed fruit, Brander says.
In addition, consumers can have their fresh vegetables ready to eat in 8-10 minutes as the containers are microwavable.

Maxwell Chase Technologies has been in business since 1994, when company scientists invented the food safe Fresh-R-Pax® absorbent. The absorbent is comprised of a blend of food safe materials which comply with the FDA regulations for direct food contact. The absorbent has the capacity to absorb up to 70 times its own weight of fluids, and it is the removal of excess fluid that results in the dramatic improvement in shelf life.

The company now markets an array of absorbent pads, pouches and trays, each containing the Fresh-R-Pax® absorbent, to provide its customers with a range of packaging options.

“One of the most cost-effective packages is our pouches which incorporates the super absorbent material on one side of the bag and a breathable material on the other,” Brander explains. “Diced tomatoes, sliced peppers and onions, celery and products of that nature work especially well here. There is improved quality retention and added shelf life. The pouches are available in 2-, 5- and 8-pound sizes.”

Maxwell Chase recently began packaging grape tomatoes in Fresh-R-Pax® pouches. Reports show an increase of up to a 100 percent in shelf life as well as increased freshness versus product packed in either vented or unvented clam shell containers.

While grape tomatoes are uncut, they can be packed wet, thus avoiding the shaking and jarring that takes place under normal drying conditions, Brander explains. The company has just recently added re-closable zippers to their pouches.

Another very successful product is the Maxwell Chase Fresh-R-Pax® super absorbent tray. Approximately 25 percent of a major fast food chain’s pre-sliced tomatoes are supplied in these trays, Brander notes. These, too, provide up to 14 days of shelf life.

A large fresh-cut processor is using Fresh-R-Pax® trays and pouches to supply fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers to approximately 1,000 super markets delis in the Southeast he says.

An important part of providing sliced tomato product has been Maxwell Chase’s development of the MCT-25 Tomato Slicer, specifically designed and engineered to produce precision-cut tomato slices. The slicer removes unwanted end pieces and places them in the tray with no human handling.

“This machine picks up six tomatoes, takes the ends off, slices the middle, brings them all together, like a log, and places them into our tray without anybody’s hands touching them, which is terrific in terms of food safety” Brander points out. “In addition there is such a tremendous savings on labor that the machine can pay for itself in six months.”

Another recent company innovation, the official explains, is a “clean-in-place” system incorporated into the slicer. It sprays a fine mist of chlorinated water over the knives, disinfecting them between each cut.

Today, the MCT-25 Tomato Slicer system is used by a growing number of fresh-cut processors, including Condies Foods, Salt Lake City, Utah; R.C. McEntire & Co., Columbia, S.C., and Los Angeles Salads, Los Angeles, Calif. In addition the company shipped three new slicers to processors in the Japanese market to supply a major fast food chain of 3,800 stores.

For more information, contact Maxwell Chase Technologies, LLC at: 125 Westlake Parkway, Suite 100, Atlanta, GA 30336; phone: (866)344-0796; http://www.maxwellchase.com

NatureSeal® Introduces Two New Formulations for Avocados
For all the popularity that avocados have been enjoying among American consumers, the challenge of their rapid browning after slicing has remained an obstacle for food processors. That obstacle is now gone, thanks to two new formulations developed by Westport, Conn.-based Mantrose-Haeuser Co., Inc., the makers of the NatureSeal® family of products for fresh-cut produce.

“The avocado is a highly popular fruit,” says Bill Barrie, president of NatureSeal. “We are already seeing this popularity branch out to an ever broader range of avocado recipes, many of which call for sliced avocados. This is why NatureSeal is introducing two new avocado formulations—one developed especially for organic avocados.”

NatureSeal for Avocados protects fresh-cut avocados from color, flavor and texture changes for up to two weeks. These formulations may be applied as a dip or as a spray and can even be added to guacamole. NatureSeal for Avocados is sulfite- and allergen-free, and does not leave an aftertaste, change the fruit’s texture, or contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“We’re experts at creating new fresh-cut products from the ground up, and for us, the sliced avocado segment is our latest challenge,” says Barrie.

For a fresh-cut product to achieve success in the fast food industry, processors must be able to produce uniformly consistent quality produce with sufficient shelf life and stamina to withstand the rigors of distribution and food preparation, he explains. Sliced apples have met that challenge and more, making their debut in fast food restaurants across the country. Avocados are next. The increasing availability of sliced avocados will drive supermarket sales of avocados, both whole and sliced.

NatureSeal for Avocados is now available to processors as well as supermarkets and restaurants that want to treat avocados onsite. For the fast-growing organic foods market, NatureSeal offers an OMRI-certified formulation for use on organic avocados.

Pulse: New Benchmark Standard for Wash Water Sanitation
Using an automation technology that continuously monitors and controls, Pulse Instruments has created a benchmark standard for wash water sanitation. The system includes built-in safety alarms and records wash water chemistry, thus ensuring proper disinfection during processing.

In the ever-increasing need and awareness for food safety and HACCP, water has become a focus point for proper disinfection treatment. The reason is pathogens and harmful microorganisms can become a danger for contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables during growing and post-harvest contact. Water is a critical contact control point. Proper treatment can greatly reduce these microbes, thereby reducing the chances of a food-borne illness.

The objective of using any sanitizer is to disinfect the water and destroy pathogens. Most water sanitizers are oxidizers and create oxidation. The stronger the oxidation, the faster the microbe is killed. By measuring this oxidation level, Pulse can directly measure the rate at which these microbes are killed. ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) is a measure of the oxidation level in the water and is measured in mV (millivolts) and thereby measures the activity of the sanitizer rather than its concentration levels (ppm). The choice of a sanitizer may be left up to the user keeping in mind specific processing requirements.

For more information, contact Pulse Instruments, phone (800) 462-1926, Web http://www.pulseinstrument.com Visit. Booth # 819 during Fresh-cut Expo.

Accu-Tab® System Offers Advantages Over Chlorine Gas and Bleach
Accu-Tab® Sl Calcium Hypochlorite Tablets offer advantages over chlorine gas and bleach for water treatment. Among the advantages are: safety, with no gas cylinders, convenience of handling, simplicity of operation (only water moves), accuracy of dispensing without metering pumps and low capital cost. Additional incentives pushing the increasing use of calcium hypochlorite are the more stringent regulatory and safety requirements for chlorine gas systems.

New calcium hypochlorite feeder systems now allow for reliable, accurate metering of hypochlorous acid for fruit and vegetable processing, according to PPG Industries, who manufacture Accu-Tab® Sl Calcium Hypochlorite Tablets. The produce is washed in chlorinated water to kill bacteria and preserve freshness in the packaging lines. There is an industry interest in calcium vs. sodium processing due to an industry belief and papers written identifying calcium as beneficial in extending shelf life. The shelf life for vegetables disinfected to remove bacteria is much greater than for untreated vegetables.

Advantages of calcium hypochlorite for the fresh-cut vegetable industry include:

• Calcium based sanitizer: Potential to improve shelf life
• Consistency of chlorine strength compared to bleach
• Controlled delivery rate for accurate dosage to eliminate bacteria contamination
• Less corrosive in plant and on processing equipment
• Requires less pH adjustment than chlorine gas or bleach
• Safety of unskilled workers from splash/spills
• Readily available from local suppliers
• Easy installation of chlorinator

Calcium hypochlorite is an inexpensive treatment for wash water sanitization systems used in produce operations such as hydro-cooling and washing. It is only slightly more expensive to use than chlorine gas, equivalent in cost to sodium hypochlorite, and less expensive than chlorine dioxide, peroxyacetic acid, ozone, and UV.

Calcium hypochlorite is FDA approved for pathogen control in the wash water step for fresh-cut processors. With proper doses, treatment with calcium hypochlorite reduces surface contaminants and spoilage. It offers a safe and simple alternative to sodium hypochlorite. Compared to sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite is less corrosive to equipment and bins and, since it is not caustic, does not damage the fruit cuticle and epidermis. The material has a more stable shelf life.

For more information, contact Susan Lear, PPG Industries, (412) 434-2256; slear@ppg.com.

Orics’ R-20 with In-feed System
ORICS’ R-20 is the most popular machine on the market for Modified Atmosphere Packaging (M.A.P). ORICS offers a variety of M.A.P. machines, from table-type and manual in-feed to fully automated high-volume production lines. Our M.A.P. systems are constructed to work with high O2 (oxygen) and low O2 (less than 0.1 percent). All the machines are designed for quick, easy and inexpensive changeover.
The VGF R-20 modular design allows for expansion to a full production line.

Also available form ORICS is our popular R-40 line.

For more information, contact ORICS Industries Inc., College Point, N.Y.; phone: (718) 461-8613; info@orics.com.

Originally posted Saturday, Apr. 7, 2007

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