As food technologies and solutions have improved, so consumer buying habits have evolved, with an increasing emphasis on ready-to-eat (RTE) meals. However, handling such ready-made non-cooked foods during freezing brings risks, including avoiding hazardous bacterial outbreaks. Protecting end consumer health and brand reputation has been key to the development of new freezing solutions from JBT, which are focused on eliminating possible bacterial growth.
Potentially deadly bacteria, such as listeria, that cause serious health emergencies can lead to factories being closed down – permanently. Even if this does not happen, the damage that can be caused to a brand’s carefully-honed reputation can be considerable, never mind that a food borne emergency can put consumers – adults and children alike – at risk.
JBT’s unique, hygienic solution combines disinfection with hot steam sanitation and innovative Fully Welded Enclosures (FWE), a hygienic design which removes the risk of bio film and microbiological growth in a freezer unit. “Steam sanitation works best with fully welded enclosures as normal caulked panels cannot endure the heat,” explains JBT’s R&D Manager Christopher Fogelqvist. “Cracks, worn parts, scratches—all defective points—are places where food can get caught and bacteria can grow. The one goal is to ensure no contamination that could harm the health of a consumer.”
Hygiene by design
Offered across JBT’s entire Frigoscandia freezing equipment range, an indication of FWE’s success and trend towards the ready-to-eat market is the fact that quote requests for the technology doubled during 2020. “When it comes to designing freezer surfaces, we want to avoid having crevices because bacteria can get in there,” says Fogelqvist. “JBT’s freezing equipment range has been designed with open profiles, sloping and minimized overlapping surfaces, so that when you flush the freezer during cleaning, you don’t have any hidden surfaces with risk of bacteria growth.”
Fogelqvist says JBT achieves this by minimizing overlapping surfaces and fasteners, using welding to deliver freezers that are hygienic by design down to the smallest components of the machine. “The FWE is designed to ensure effective and efficient cleaning over the life of the equipment,” he adds.
The growth in the ready-to-eat category, he continues, has brought greater awareness across the food industry of the risk posed by bacteria. “Consumers are now eating more fresh frozen food directly from packages. This is a big change in behavior,” says Fogelqvist. “At minus 40C, bacteria growth slows down. The problem is that when the system is thawed out, the bacteria starts growing again, so to have a clean machine is crucial.”
However, the FWE design does not just enable steam sanitation and ensure against bacteria growth. The design has a much longer lifespan than traditional enclosures, with far greater endurance against cleaning agents and temperature fluctuations. The JBT fully-welded design also guards against water penetration of joints or cracks which can cause freeze shattering. Replacing an enclosure is expensive, complex and takes time, leading to a loss of production hours, which every customer wants to avoid as much as possible.
“The Fully Welded Enclosure market is growing very quickly due to the increase of RTE foods and in combination with effective steam sanitation and good, hygienic design it is the best investment for protection of end consumer health and food producers’ plants,” adds Fogelqvist. “JBT’s design with a fully welded inside and outside, in combination with stress free joints, and a superior internal hygiene, will provide a long-lasting solution for the toughest food producers during the full equipment life cycle. JBT always strives for smartness in our design.”