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Title:
CONTINUOUS LOW TEMPERATURE FOOD PASTEURIZATION SYSTEM AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/003080
Kind Code:
A4
Abstract:
A continuous low temperature food pasteurization system (10) includes a conveyor system (20) for conveying food products (FP) through a pasteurization chamber (40). A pre heater (140) may be located upstream from the pasteurization chamber, and an optional post heater (160) may be located downstream from the pasteurization chamber. A chiller and/or freezer (100) rapidly chills and/or freezes the food product after pasteurization as the conveyor system conveys the food product through the freezer. A control system (250) controls the operation of the pasteurization system to ensure that a desired percentage of pathogenic microorganisms present on the surface and/or within the interior of the food product are killed.

Inventors:
STRONG, Jonn, R. (1604 West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Bellevue, WA, 98008, US)
STOCKARD, Richard, D. (7315 126th Avenue NE, Kirkland, WA, 98033, US)
HOCKER, Jon, A. (8715 32nd Ave SE, Bothell, WA, 98012, US)
Application Number:
US2014/045292
Publication Date:
January 08, 2015
Filing Date:
July 02, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
JONN BEAN TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION (70 West Madison Street, Suite 4400Chicago, IL, 60602, US)
International Classes:
A23L3/00; A21B1/36; A23B4/005; A23B5/005; A23L3/02; A23L3/04; A23L3/06; A23L3/18; A23L3/3418; A23L5/10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NAGAE, Jerald, E. (Christensen O'connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, 1201 Third Avenue Suite 360, Seattle WA, 98101, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 30 December 2014 (30.12.2014)

CLAIMS

1. A continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system for continuously pasteurizing and cooking food products at a low maximum temperature over a sufficient time duration to kill pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food product and cook the food product to a desired level, characterized by:

(a) a conveyance system for continuously conveying the food product to be pasteurized and cooked;

(b) a low temperature pasteurization chamber through which the conveyance system passes;

(c) a pasteurization medium generator in fluid flow communication with the pasteurization chamber, the pasteurization medium generator providing heated air for heating the interior of the low temperature pasteurization chamber to a temperature range of about 55°C [125.6°F] to 70°C [150°F] and/or supplying moisture of about 80 to 100% humidity to the interior of the low temperature pasteurization chamber;

(d) a measurement system for measuring operational parameters of the system for continuously pasteurizing and cooking the food products, comprising the speed of the conveyance system and the temperature and humidity within the low temperature pasteurization chamber;

(e) a control system for monitoring the operational parameters of the pasteurization system for continuously pasteurizing and cooking the food products, comprising:

(i) the speed of the conveyor within the pasteurization chamber to determine if the conveyor is operating at a speed within a conveyor speed set point range that provides the food product a sufficient dwell time within the low temperature pasteurization chamber to kill a desired percentage of the pathogenic microorganisms present on and/or in the food product,

(ii) the temperature of at least one of:

the heated air supplied to the low temperature pasteurization chamber to determine if the interior of the low temperature pasteurization chamber is maintained at a temperature set point in the range of about 55°C [131°F] to about 70°C [158°F];

40 the food product to determine if the interior of the food product attains a set point of from 52°C [125.6°F] to 70°C [158°F] for a sufficient length of time needed to reach a desired level of lethality of pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food product; and

(iii) the moisture supplied to the pasteurization chamber to determine if the moisture content of the pasteurization medium within the low temperature pasteurization chamber is maintained at a moisture set point in the range of about 80 to about 100% humidity; and

(f) said control system operational so that if the measured temperature within the low temperature pasteurization chamber, the measured temperature of the food product, and/or humidity within the low temperature pasteurization chamber, deviate sufficiently from the preselected set point temperature and/or humidity ranges, or if the speed of the conveyor deviates sufficiently from the preselected set point speed so that the desired percentage of pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food products are not killed, the control system initiates a rectifying procedure so that the desired level of pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food product are killed.

2. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of Claim 1, wherein the rectifying procedure initiated by the control system is characterized by altering one or more of the operational parameters.

3. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of Claim 1 or 2, wherein:

the rectifying procedure initiated by the control system is characterized by:

determining settings for one or more of the operational parameters to achieve the desired kill level of the pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food product; and

one or both of:

(i) recommending settings to an operator;

(ii) automatically altering settings; and

the settings include one or more of:

the temperature in the pasteurization chamber;

the moisture level within the pasteurization chamber;

the conveyance system speed; the dwell time of the conveyance system in the pasteurization chamber; the loading level of the food products on the conveyance system; and diversion of the food product from the conveyance system.

4. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-3, wherein the conveyance system is characterized by a conveyor belt disposed in stacked layers within the pasteurization chamber, with the food product exiting the pasteurization chamber on the conveyor belt at the top of the stacked layers.

5. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-4, further characterized by a circulating system for circulating the pasteurization medium through the low temperature pasteurization chamber, the control system operable to control the circulating system so that the flow of the circulating medium within the pasteurization chamber is in the direction primarily generally horizontally and/or downwardly over the food product.

6. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-5, further characterized by a pre -heater positioned upstream relative to the low temperature pasteurization chamber and positioned relative to the conveyance system to preheat the food products being carried by the conveyance system prior to the food products entering the low temperature pasteurization chamber and the pre -heater is operable to optionally provide desired food product color and flavor through an intense pre-heating process that raises the surface temperature of the food product.

7. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of Claim 6, wherein the pre-heater is operable to preheat the food product to approximately a final desired pasteurization temperature within the low temperature pasteurization chamber so that the thermal treatment of the food products within the low temperature pasteurization chamber is to maintain the food products at such temperature over the time needed to kill the desired level of pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food products.

8. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-7, further characterized by a liquid circulation system for directing juices rendered from the food product during operation of the pasteurization system onto the food product being conveyed on the conveyance system in the low temperature pasteurization and/or pre -heat chambers and optionally heating the liquid before directing it onto the food product.

9. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-8, wherein the measurement system measures the temperature of food product samples when within the low temperature pasteurization chamber.

10. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-9, further characterized by:

a first chiller positioned downstream of the pasteurization chamber to rapidly chill the food product exiting the pasteurization chamber to an intermediate temperature;

a high intensity heat source for quickly heating the exterior surface of the chilled food product; and

a second chiller and/or freezer for rapidly chilling and/or freezing the food product.

11. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 1-10, further characterized by the control system operational to model the lethality of pathogenic microorganisms, and, based on such modeling, if needed, initiate a rectifying procedure comprising altering one or more of the operational parameters so that the desired level of pathogenic microorganisms on and/or in the food product are killed, while maintaining a desired food product quality by keeping the core of the food product below the low maximum temperature.

12. A method for continuously pasteurizing and cooking food products at a low maximum temperature over a sufficient time duration to kill a desired percentage of pathogens located on and/or in the food products and cooking the food products to a desired level, the method characterized by:

(a) providing a pasteurization zone at a first operational parameter comprising the temperature of the pasteurizing zone having a temperature set point of between 55°C [131°F] and 70°C [158°F];

43 (b) conveying the food product loaded on a conveyor through the pasteurization zone at a second operational parameter comprising the speed of the conveyor that retains the food product in the pasteurization zone to reach a set point temperature of the food product for a sufficient length of time to kill a desired percentage of pathogens present on and/or in the food product and cook the food product to a desired level;

(c) measuring the temperature level within the pasteurization zone and/or the temperature of the food product; and

(d) if the measured temperature within the pasteurization zone and/or the temperature of the food product deviates sufficiently from the set point temperature range, so that a desired percentage of pathogens on and/or in the food products are not killed, initiating a rectifying procedure so that the desired level of pathogens on and/or in the food product are killed.

13. The low temperature pasteurization and cooking method of Claim 12, wherein the set point temperature within the pasteurization zone a is selected from the dry bulb temperature, wet bulb temperature, and dew point temperature within a range of about 55°C [131°F] to 70°C [158°F].

14. The low temperature pasteurization and cooking method of any one of Claims 12 or 13, further characterized by chilling or freezing the food product after the food product is conveyed through the pasteurization zone.

15. The low temperature pasteurization and cooking method of any one of Claims 12-

14, further characterized by prior to chilling or freezing the food products:

rapidly chilling the food product to a surface temperature below 40°C [104°F]; and applying an intense heat to the surface of the food product to achieve a desired color and/or flavor.

16. The low temperature pasteurization and cooking method of any one of Claims 12-

15, further characterized by preheating the food product before the food product enters the pasteurization zone using one or more of the following heat energy sources: steam, radio

44 frequency radiation, infrared radiation, convection, mixed liquid and gas convection, condensation, conduction, and microwave radiation.

17. The low temperature pasteurization and cooking method of any one of Claims 12- 16, further characterized by applying intense surface heat to the food product to achieve a desired color and/or flavor either before the food product enters the pasteurization zone or after the food product leaves the pasteurization zone and before the food product is chilled or frozen.

18. The low temperature pasteurization and cooking method according to any one of Claims 12-17, further characterized by collecting the liquid rendered from the food product during the pasteurization of the food product, and heating the liquid as necessary to a temperature of at least 48°C [118.4°F] before applying the collected rendered liquid to the food product to assist in heating the product to the desired temperature set point.

19. A system for continuously pasteurizing and cooking food products at a low maximum temperature over a sufficient time duration to kill pathogens on and/or in the food product and cook the food product to a desired level, characterized by:

(a) a conveyance system for conveying the food product to be pasteurized;

(b) a low temperature pasteurization chamber through which the conveyance system passes;

(c) a pasteurization medium generator in fluid flow communication with the pasteurization chamber, the pasteurization medium generator providing a pasteurization medium for heating and/or maintaining at a desired temperature the food product in the low temperature pasteurization chamber;

(d) a measurement system for measuring operational parameters of the system for continuously pasteurizing the food products comprising the speed of the conveyance system and the temperature within the low temperature pasteurization chamber and/or the temperature of the pasteurization medium and/or the temperature of the food product;

(e) a control system for monitoring the operational parameters of the temperature pasteurization system for continuously pasteurizing and cooking the food products, comprising the parameters of:

45 (i) the speed of the conveyor within the pasteurization chamber to determine if the conveyor is operating at a speed within a conveyor speed set point range that provides the food product a sufficient dwell time within the low temperature pasteurization chamber to kill a desired percentage of the pathogens present on and/or in the food product,

(ii) the temperature of the pasteurization medium supplied to the low temperature pasteurization chamber and/or the temperature within the low temperature pasteurization chamber to determine if such temperature(s) are maintained at a temperature set point in the range of about 55°C [131°F] to about 70°C [158°F] and/or the temperature of the food product to determine if the temperature of the food product reaches the set point temperature for the food product; and

(f) the control system operational to model the lethality of pathogens and, based on such modeling, if needed, initiate a rectifying procedure comprising altering one or more of the operational parameters so that the desired level of pathogens on and/or in the food product are killed, while maintaining a desired food product quality by keeping the core of the food product below a pre- selected maximum temperature.

20. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of Claim 19, where the control system optionally measures the parameter of the food product temperature as the food product enters the pasteurization zone and the food product temperature immediately following the pasteurization zone.

21. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of Claim 19 or 20, wherein:

the pasteurization medium is also characterized by moisture supplied to the interior of the low temperature pasteurization chamber;

the measurement system measures the moisture level within the low temperature pasteurization chamber; and

the control system monitors the operational parameter of the moisture level within the low temperature pasteurization chamber to determine if such moisture level is maintained at a set point in the range of 80 to 100% humidity.

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22. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 19-21, wherein the rectifying procedure initiated by the control system is characterized by one or more of:

altering the temperature in the pasteurization chamber;

altering the moisture level within the pasteurization chamber;

altering the conveyance system speed within the pasteurization chamber;

altering the food product temperature entering the pasteurization chamber;

altering the loading level of food products onto the conveyance system; and

diverting the food product from the conveyance system.

23. The continuous low temperature pasteurization and cooking system of any one of Claims 19-22, wherein the rectifying procedure initiated by the control system is characterized by at least one of:

i) issuing a notification of the deviation of the operational parameter(s), ii) providing a recommendation as to the setting for one or more of the operational parameter(s) to achieve a desired kill level of the pathogens on and/or in the food products; and

iii) automatically altering one or more of the operational parameters.

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