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Thermal processing firm celebrates 40th anniversary this year

Holmach: Six benefits of REPFEDS

By Jenny Eagle+

01-Apr-2014
Last updated on 01-Apr-2014 at 11:23 GMT

Holmesterne Foods
Holmesterne Foods

Holmach plans to kick off its 40th anniversary this year with Heinz and the Institute for Thermal Processing Specialists at the Thermal Processing conference at Campden BRI from June 12-13.

The company, which makes thermal processing technology, specialises in the pasteurisation and sterilisation of wet and dry foodstuffs and covers cooking and in-container processing, from ready meals and soups to sauces, rice, pasta and baby food.

40th anniversary

The conference includes food experts from France, Norway, South Africa and the US, and will examine the quality, safety and regulatory issues of producing commercial heat preserved foods, split into three themes over two days; thermal food processing, high impact research in thermal processing, and challenges to process validation and compliance.

Holmach is present at various exhibitions throughout the year to celebrate our 40th anniversary, including Interpack in Dusseldorf and PPMA (Processing & Packaging Machinery Association) exhibition from September 30-October 2 at Birmingham NEC,” Victoria Touzel, marketing executive, Holmach, told FoodProductionDaily.

We are hoping to run a webinar later this year to present some of the material from the Thermal Processing conference at Campden BRI to a wider audience and we will be holding our own private celebration later in the year.”

The company recently installed a Lagarde static retort for processing beef ribs in a barbecue sauce at Holmesterne Foods.

Lagarde’s product range includes rotating and static retorts with diameters from 600 to 2500mm and from one to eight baskets in capacity. It comes in steam/air, raining water, steam spray and full water immersion retorts of all sizes.  

Lagarde 5 Basket retort

Lagarde retorts

Typically, there are two classes of autoclave (retorts), those pressurized with steam process workloads which can withstand exposure to water, while circulating heated gas provides greater flexibility and control of the heating atmosphere.

Chris Holland, managing director, Holmach, said using a steam process for rapid cooking, Lagarde retorts combine a high velocity fan, with accuracy rated to 0.1°C ensures the quick transfer of heat across the batch.

He added there is no agitation of the packs whilst in the retort, which offers better yields than with Sous-Vide systems, lower utility costs and no dead time whilst the machine is in operation.

Holland claims the use of Lagarde retorts for REPFEDS (REfrigerated Processed Foods of Extended Durability) has long been pioneered by Holmach in the UK and there are over 50 of these autoclaves in operation producing extended shelf life ready meals around the country.

Six benefits of REPFEDS

He said the six benefits of REPFEDS are: extended shelf life, which means more time in distribution, allowing overseas markets to be reached; longer time on the shelf grants more opportunity to sell, which cuts down on wastage/scrap due to product expiry.

A product is “cooked in the pot” for more natural flavours and rounded spices, and double cooked to give more authenticity in ethnic meals.

Other benefits include; elimination of salt, sugar and additives for preservation; it follows the latest cooking trends in slow cooking and hearty foods and there are two doors on Lagarde retorts, which allows for high risk/low risk separation in factories.

Holmesterne Foods previously had steam ovens that tended to cook unevenly and had no cooling, making it impossible to define the precise cook time for each batch,” he said. 

It was impossible to run sealed cpet trays through these machines without them bursting using a P. Botulinum process or 90 for 10

Pasteurising meat

Holmesterne installed a Lagarde retort to increase capacity, and now provides meals, soups, sauces and meat products either for the cool chain or for ambient food service customers.”

Holland added he has seen an increase in the use of retorts for pasteurising meat products in the UK.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) doesn’t have the same advantages of short/sharp thermal processing, which can extend life in excess of 30 days without affecting product quality,” he said.

Instead, treating combination meals with MAP is more inefficient, as there is no single gas that will retard microbial growth when meat, sauce and vegetables are mixed together.

A shorter shelf life for the final product treated by MAP could prevent British manufacturers from exporting ethnic foods in particular, despite a growing demand from European retailers.”  

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