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Title:
DEVICE, RECEPTACLE AND METHOD FOR DISPENSING A FOOD COMPOSITION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/118526
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed is a device (1) for dispensing a food composition (13) from a receptacle (8) wherein: the receptacle comprises a compressed gas inlet (9) comprising an inlet orifice5 (90) at least partially surrounded by at least two concentric recess (91, 92). The device comprises a compressed gas source (12); and a gas conduit (11) extending from the compressed gas source to a compressed gas outlet (10). The compressed gas outlet has at least two concentric projecting rims (101, 102) receivable by the concentric recesses (91, 92) of the compressed gas inlet when the compressed gas outlet is in sealing engagement with the compressed gas inlet

Inventors:
MAAS, Wilhelmus, Johannes, Joseph (AFA Dispensing Group BV Grasbeemd 1, 5705 DE Helmond, 5705, NL)
GARCIA NARANJO, Alberto (Cambridge Design Partnership Ltd Church Road, Toft Cambridge CB23 2RF, CB23 2RF, GB)
SCOTT, Paul (Cambridge Design Partnership Ltd Church Road, Toft Cambridge CB23 2RF, CB23 2RF, GB)
Application Number:
EP2016/080428
Publication Date:
July 13, 2017
Filing Date:
December 09, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
UNILEVER PLC (a company registered in England and Wales under company no. of Unilever House, 100 Victoria Embankment, London Greater London EC4Y 0DY, EC4Y 0DY, GB)
UNILEVER N.V. (Weena 455, 3013 AL Rotterdam, 3013 AL, NL)
CONOPCO, INC., D/B/A UNILEVER (800 Sylvan Avenue AG West, S. WingEnglewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 07632, US)
International Classes:
A23G9/08; A23G9/22; A23G9/28; A47J31/00; B65D85/78
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007039158A12007-04-12
WO2013124193A12013-08-29
WO2013124193A12013-08-29
WO2007039158A12007-04-12
Foreign References:
US20120052163A12012-03-01
EP2485627B12013-09-11
US5463878A1995-11-07
US5893485A1999-04-13
EP1449441A12004-08-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KEENAN, Robert, Daniel (Unilever Patent Group Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bedford Bedfordshire MK44 1LQ, MK44 1LQ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1 . A device for dispensing a food composition from a receptacle wherein:

the receptacle comprises a compressed gas inlet comprising an inlet orifice at least partially surrounded by at least two concentric recess; and the device comprises:

• a compressed gas source; and

• a gas conduit extending from the compressed gas source to a compressed gas outlet;

wherein the compressed gas outlet has at least two concentric projecting rims receivable by the concentric recesses of the compressed gas inlet when the compressed gas outlet is in sealing engagement with the compressed gas inlet.

2. The device as claimed in claim 1 wherein the concentric recesses comprise an inner recess surrounding the inlet orifice and an outer recess at least partially surrounding the inner recess.

3. The device as claimed in claim 2 wherein the concentric projecting rims comprise an inner rim receivable by the inner concentric recess and an outer rim receivable by the outer concentric recess.

4. The device as claimed in claim 3 wherein the outer concentric projecting rim comprises a chamfered outer surface. 5. The device as claimed in claim 3 or claim 4 wherein the inner concentric projecting rim comprises a chamfered inner surface.

6. The device as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the outer concentric rim does not completely surround the inner concentric rim.

7. The device as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the gas outlet is resiliency biasable to allow expansion of the receptacle when pressurized.

8. The device as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the device comprises: a housing surrounding the receptacle and having a door allowing access to the receptacle; and

a mechanism for adjusting the relative position of the receptacle and compressed gas outlet in response to movement of the door to urge the compressed gas outlet and the compressed gas inlet into sealing engagement as the door is closed.

9. A system comprising the device as claimed in any one of the preceding claims and one or more of the receptacles.

10. A method for dispensing a food composition from a receptacle comprising:

placing the compressed gas outlet of the device as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8 in sealing engagement with the compressed gas inlet of the receptacle whereby the concentric projecting rims of the compressed gas outlet are received in the concentric recesses of the compressed gas inlet; and activating the compressed gas source to feed compressed gas through the conduit, outlet and inlet to act on the food composition within the receptacle. 1 1 . A receptacle containing a food composition, wherein the receptacle comprises a compressed gas inlet comprising an inlet orifice at least partially surrounded by at least two concentric recess.

12. The receptacle as claimed in claim 1 1 , wherein the receptacle comprises at least two compartments separated by an at least partially moveable wall, and wherein: one of the compartments contains the food composition and comprises an outlet; and

another of the compartments is in fluid communication with the gas inlet. 13. The receptacle as claimed in claim 12, wherein the receptacle is a bag-in-bottle container wherein the moveable wall comprises the bag.

14. Device, system, method or receptacle as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein the food composition is a frozen confection, preferably ice cream.

Description:
DEVICE, RECEPTACLE AND METHOD FOR DISPENSING A FOOD COMPOSITION

Field of the invention

The present invention relates to devices, methods and systems for dispensing food compositions. In particular, the invention relates to such methods, systems and devices that dispense frozen confections from receptacles through application of compressed gas.

Background of the invention

In recent years, systems for dispensing frozen confections such as soft ice cream have been developed in which pre-packaged ice cream is delivered from a container by a dispensing device. In particular systems which employ bag-in-bottle type containers have been developed. WO 2013/124193 A discloses a method for dispensing a frozen confection comprising: providing a refrigerated, insulated chamber, which houses at least one container, containing a frozen confection at a temperature of -12 °C or below; wherein the at least one container has an outlet which is closed by a self-closing valve; wherein the container comprises a flexible bag containing the frozen confection located inside a bottle; pressurising gas in the region inside the bottle and outside the flexible bag thereby applying pressure to the frozen confection so that the valve opens and the frozen confection is forced out of the container through the outlet; releasing the pressure so that the valve closes. The containers used in such systems are usually replaceable and often disposable. As such, a user is required to connect a pressurized gas source to each new container. Where such systems are used out-of-home in retail establishments and the like, they may be used by trained operatives with controlled and regulated procedures being employed.

The present inventors have now recognized that there is a need for improvements in systems for dispensing food compositions like soft ice using pressurized gas. In particular the present inventors have found that improving the way in which a receptacle is connected to a compressed gas source can increase the convenience and/or safety of such systems making them suitable for non-trained operatives, for example, in a domestic in-home setting. Summary of the invention

In a first aspect, the present invention is directed to a device for dispensing a food composition from a receptacle wherein:

the receptacle comprises a compressed gas inlet comprising an inlet orifice at least partially surrounded by at least two concentric recess; and - the device comprises:

a compressed gas source; and

a gas conduit extending from the compressed gas source to a compressed gas outlet;

wherein the compressed gas outlet has at least two concentric projecting rims receivable by the concentric recesses of the compressed gas inlet when the compressed gas outlet is in sealing engagement with the compressed gas inlet.

The mating of the concentric projecting rims with the concentric recesses helps guide alignment of the outlet and inlet to provide more convenient coupling thereof. The inner concentric rim may also help effect the seal whilst the outer helps guide the inner into place, regardless of the orientation of the receptacle in the device. This may also allow for more efficient manufacture of the receptacle as the tolerances needed on the position of the inlet orifice can be relaxed somewhat owing to the ability of the concentric recesses of the outlet in the device to guide the inlet orifice into position.

The features of the present device are especially advantageous when high pressure (for example at least 0.5 bar, more preferably between 1 and 5 bar) is required to dispense the food composition. Such high pressures are generally required where the food composition is highly viscous or pasty. Preferably, the food composition is a frozen confection.

Frozen confection means a confection made by freezing a mix (preferably a pasteurized mix) of ingredients such as water, fat, sweetener, protein (normally milk proteins), and optionally other ingredients such as emulsifiers, stabilisers, colours and flavours. Frozen confection materials may be aerated. Frozen confection materials include ice cream, gelato, frozen yoghurt, sorbets, granitas, shaved ices and the like. Preferably the frozen confection is ice cream.

The frozen confection may be aerated. The term "aerated" means that gas has been intentionally incorporated into the product, such as by mechanical means. The gas can be any food-grade gas such as air, nitrogen or carbon dioxide. The extent of aeration is typically defined in terms of "overrun" (OR). In the context of the present invention, %overrun is defined in volume terms (measured at atmospheric pressure) as: volume of frozen aerated product - volume of premix at ambient te mp

UK = x 100

volume of premix at ambient temp

The amount of overrun present in the aerated frozen confection will vary depending on the desired product characteristics. In the context of the present invention the level of overrun is typically from 0 to 150%, more preferably from 60 to 150%, most preferably from 60 to 100%.

Preferably the concentric recesses comprise an inner recess surrounding the inlet orifice and an outer recess at least partially surrounding the inner recess, more preferably completely surrounding the inner recess as this assists in making the mating of the inlet with the outlet independent of orientation of the receptacle.

Typically the concentric projecting rims surround an outlet orifice of the compressed gas outlet, preferably also the concentric projecting rims comprise an inner rim receivable by the inner concentric recess and an outer rim receivable by the outer concentric recess. The outer concentric rim preferably mainly functions as a guide to align the gas outlet and gas inlet when it engages the corresponding recess. In this respect it need not completely surround the inner rim and in a preferred embodiment the outer concentric rim does not completely surround the inner concentric rim. The guiding function of the outer concentric projecting rim is enhanced when it comprises a chamfered outer surface. The inner concentric rim preferably mainly functions to provide or at least contribute to forming an air-tight seal between the gas outlet and gas inlet when it engages the corresponding recess. In this respect it is preferred that the inner concentric rim completely surrounds the outlet orifice. The sealing function of the inner concentric projecting rim is enhanced when it comprises a chamfered inner surface.

In a preferred embodiment the gas outlet is resiliency biasable, for example it may be spring-loaded. With such a feature the gas outlet can change position to allow expansion of the receptacle when pressurized and this feature also aids in allowing the receptacle to be made with a wider tolerance and still fit with the outlet.

In a preferred embodiment the device also comprises:

a housing surrounding the receptacle and having a door allowing access to the receptacle; and

- a mechanism for adjusting the relative position of the receptacle and compressed gas outlet in response to movement of the door to urge the compressed gas outlet and the compressed gas inlet into sealing engagement as the door is closed. Linking the movement of the door to the sealing engagement of the gas outlet and the inlet on the receptacle dispenses with the requirement for a user to manually seal the two together and so allows for devices that are more convenient to use, especially where users need not be trained to make a manual seal. Also, linking the sealing to the movement of the door provides an extra safety feature without the need for complex pressure-relief valves: With the door in an open position, the receptacle is not under pressure even if the gas source is still active. As an extra safety feature it is preferred that the device comprises a control system configured to restrict or prevent activation of the gas source when the door is not closed.

In one embodiment the mechanism converts arcuate movement of the door into linear translation of the outlet, the inlet or both, most preferably the outlet or both. Thus as the door is swung closed its movement is transmitted (through, for example, a cam mechanism and/or one or more transmission members) to bring the outlet and inlet together. Preferably the transmission member(s) comprise one or more transmission rods.

The use of gas pressure to dispense food compositions is most effectively and hygienically achieved if the gas pressure does not act directly on the food composition but rather through a moveable wall (such as piston, bag or membrane). Thus, it is preferred that the receptacle comprises at least two compartments separated by an at least partially moveable wall, and wherein:

one of the compartments contains the food composition and comprises an outlet; and

another of the compartments is in fluid communication with the gas inlet.

The moveable wall is such that a dispensing force can be transmitted from the compressed gas through the wall to the food product. Examples of such receptacles include bag-in-bottles (where the bag acts as the moveable wall) and cartridges containing pistons (where the piston acts as the moveable wall) although other configurations are possible including, for example, containers with an end wall that is deformable to become the moveable wall (as described, for example in US 5,893,485). Examples of bag-in-bottle type receptacles are described in WO 2007/039158 A and examples of piston-in-cartridge type receptacles are described in EP 1 449 441 A both of which documents are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety. Most preferred are bag-in-bottle type receptacles.

The utility of the present invention is especially enhanced where the receptacle is replaceable. Therefore it is preferred that the receptacle is disposable or recyclable.

The receptacle preferably contains multiple portions of food composition, more preferably wherein the receptacle contains at least 200 g of food composition, even more preferably between 250 and 3000 g, more preferably still between 300 and 2000 g and most preferably between 400 and 1000 g.

In a second aspect, the present invention provides a system comprising the device of any embodiment of the first aspect and one or more of the receptacles. In a third aspect the present invention provides a receptacle suitable for use in the device of any embodiment of the first aspect. In a fourth aspect, the present invention provides a method for dispensing a food composition from a receptacle comprising:

placing the compressed gas outlet of the device according to any embodiment of the first aspect in sealing engagement with the compressed gas inlet of the receptacle whereby the concentric projecting rims of the compressed gas outlet are received in the concentric recesses of the compressed gas inlet; and

activating the compressed gas source to feed compressed gas through the conduit, outlet and inlet to act on the food composition within the receptacle.

Where the device comprises the housing surrounding the receptacle and the mechanism for adjusting the relative position of the receptacle and compressed gas outlet in response to movement of the door to urge the compressed gas outlet and the compressed gas inlet into sealing engagement as the door is closed, it is preferred that the method comprises:

locating the receptacle inside the housing of the device;

· closing the door of the device thereby urging the compressed gas outlet and the compressed gas inlet into sealing engagement and the concentric projecting rims of the compressed gas outlet into the concentric recesses of the compressed gas inlet; and

activating the compressed gas source to feed compressed gas through the conduit, outlet and inlet to act on the food composition within the receptacle.

It is preferred that the receptacle is removable such that the method comprises the additional steps of:

deactivating the compressed gas source;

· opening the door thereby separating the compressed gas outlet and the compressed gas inlet out of sealing engagement; and

removing the receptacle from the housing. Where the receptacle is single use (e.g. containing a single portion of food composition) a replacement receptacle will need to be installed in the device to dispense further portions. Where the receptacle contains multiple portions, it may be desirable to reinstall the same receptacle later to dispense remaining portions from the receptacle. Thus, the method preferably comprises the additional steps of:

relocating the receptacle or locating a replacement receptacle inside the housing of the device;

closing the door of the device thereby urging the compressed gas outlet and the compressed gas inlet into sealing engagement; and

· activating the compressed gas source to feed compressed gas through the conduit, outlet and inlet to act on the food composition within the receptacle or replacement receptacle.

Where the food composition is a frozen composition and the receptacle contains multiple portions, the receptacle will typically be stored in a freezer between dispensing occasions as this removes or at least reduces the need for the device to have its own refrigeration means and/or for the housing to be insulated. Thus in a preferred embodiment of the method, the receptacle is relocated and between removal and relocation in the housing, the receptacle is stored at a temperature of less than -7 °C, preferably less than -12 °C, most preferably at a temperature of from -15 to -25 °C. For example, the receptacle is stored in a freezer, preferably a domestic freezer.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments

The present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the figures, wherein:

Figure 1 shows a side view of the outside of a device according to an embodiment of the invention and which dispenses frozen confection from bag-in-bottle type receptacles. Figure 2 shows a sectional view of the device of Figure 1 with its door open and a receptacle in place for dispensing.

Figure 3 shows a detailed view of part of the inside of the device of Figure 1 . Figure 4 shows a further detailed view of part of the device of Figure 1 partly in section.

Figure 5 shows a back view of the gas inlet of the receptacle used in the device of Figure 1 .

Figure 6 shows a front view of the gas outlet of the device of Figure 1 .

The embodiment of the device shown in Figures 1 to 6 is suitable for dispensing frozen confections from bag-in-bottle type receptacles. The device (1 ) comprises a housing (2) and an upper door (3) which together enclose the receptacle (8). The door (3) is connected to the housing (2) through two pairs of leg struts (15,16) to provide a 4 bar linkage mechanism about which the door can be moved in and out of closure with the housing (2).

The bag (14) inside the bottle of the receptacle (8) forms a compartment containing the frozen confection (13). The compartment containing the frozen confection (13) is open at a dispensing end which is also the neck of the bottle of the receptacle (8) and which receives the inlet of a dispensing valve (7). The bottle of the receptacle (8) also comprises an inlet (9) through which compressed gas can be introduced through an orifice (90) thereof to a region inside of the bottle of the receptacle (8) but outside of the bag (14).

As best seen in Figure 2, the device (1 ) comprises a gas outlet (10) which with the door (3) in an open position is aligned with but spaced away from the inlet (9) of the receptacle (8). The gas outlet (10) is connected to an air pump (12) through an air line (1 1 ), forming in this embodiment the compressed gas source and conduit respectively.

As best seen in Figure 3, the gas outlet (10) is connected through transmission rods (18) and link pins (17, 19) to one of the pairs (16) of leg struts which link the housing (2) to the door (3). Figures 3 to 6 show further details of the outlet (10) and inlet (9). In Figure 4 the outlet (10) is shown in section.

The compressed gas outlet (10) has a generally cylindrical form terminating in a circular face. At the centre of the face is the outlet orifice (100). Projecting from the face around the outlet orifice (100) is an inner projecting rim (101 ), the inner surface (101 a) of which is chamfered along its whole length from the face outwards. Concentric to both the orifice (100) and inner rim (101 ) is an outer rim (102) projecting from the outermost edge of the face. The outer rim (102) in this embodiment extends only for half (the top half) of the circumference of the face and on its outer surface (102a) has a chamfer. Disposed at the back of the face of the outlet (10) and extend backwards therefrom to a stop (not shown) is a resiliency biasable member (in this case a helical spring (20)).

The compressed gas inlet (9) of the receptacle (8) also has a generally cylindrical form and projects from the back of the receptacle (8). At the centre of the inlet (9) is an inlet orifice (90). Surrounding the inlet orifice (90) is an inner recess (91 ). Concentric to both the orifice (90) and inner recess (91 ) is an outer recess (92) which substantially surrounds the inner recess (91 ). The surface between the inlet orifice (90) and the inner recess (91 ) is formed from a deformable material, such as rubber, to aid sealing when engaged with the outlet (10).

In use a receptacle (8) filled with ice cream or another frozen confection (13) is taken from a storage freezer and installed in the device as shown in Figure 2. The door (3) is then swung closed about the 4 bar linkage formed by the struts (15, 16). As the rear struts (16) pivot forward, they move the transmission rods (18) with them which causes the gas outlet (10) to slide towards the gas inlet (9) of the receptacle (8). As the gas outlet (10) engages the inlet (9), the outer rim (102) of the outlet (10) is received by the outer recess (92) of the inlet (90), the movement of the outer rim (102) into the outer recess (92) being aided by the chamfer on the outer surface (102a) of the outer rim (102). As the door (3) reaches its closed position (as shown in Figure 1 ), the inner surface (101 a) of the inner projecting rim (101 ) engages and presses on the surface between the inlet orifice (90) and the inner recess (91 ). When movement of the gas outlet (10) is completed, the outlet (100) and inlet (90) orifices are sealed within inner rim (101 ) the outlet (10) in an air-tight manner. In the closed position the door locks to the housing (2) via a latch (3a).

The housing (2) also comprises a micro-switch (not shown) which is activated only when the latch (3a) of the door (3) is in the closed position. Activation of the micro-switch causes the air pump to be activated and begin feeding air through the air line (1 1 ), the outlet (10) and the inlet (9) into the region of the receptacle (8) between the outer bottle and the bag. Air is pumped until the desired pressure (for example about 2 bar) is achieved).

The user then actuates the valve (7) by pulling a handle (4) to which it is connected. The frozen confection (13) is then urged through the open valve (7) by the air pressure acting on the bag (14). The dispensed ice cream flows through a dispensing opening (5) below the valve (7) to a space (6) which can accommodate a bowl, cone or other receptacle. If a large amount of ice cream is dispensed then the air pump (12) may periodically activate to keep the pressure within the receptacle (8) above a set threshold and thus prevent the flow rate of the ice cream becoming too slow. As the pressure changes in the receptacle (8) it may slightly expand or contract but the presence of the spring (20) ensures that the outlet (10) and inlet (9) remain engaged despite movement in the position of the inlet (9) and without causing stress to the bottle of the receptacle (8).

Once the desired amount of ice cream has been dispensed, the user returns the handle (4) to its original position which in turn closes the valve. The user then actuates the latch (3a) which causes the pump to deactivate and pressure inside the device and receptacle to be dumped. As the door (3) is opened, the rear struts (16) pivot backwards, moving the transmission rods with them which causes the gas outlet (10) to slide away from the gas inlet (9) of the receptacle (8). The user then removes the receptacle (8) from the device (1 ) and places it back in the storage freezer until the next dispensing occasion or, if it is empty, send it for recycling.

The micro-switch which is activated by the latch (3a) provides that the receptacle (8) can only be pressurized when the door (3) is closed. Furthermore if this safety feature were to fail then the feature that the gas inlet (10) is decoupled from the receptacle (8) when the door (3) is opened ensures that the user cannot handle the receptacle (8) in a pressurized state.

All numbers in this description indicating amounts of material, time periods, length scales, conditions of reaction, physical properties of materials and/or use may optionally be understood as modified by the word "about".

It should be noted that in specifying any range of values, any particular upper value can be associated with any particular lower value.

For the avoidance of doubt, the word "comprising" is intended to mean "including" but not necessarily "consisting of" or "composed of". In other words, the listed steps or options need not be exhaustive. The disclosure of the invention as found herein is to be considered to cover all embodiments as found in the claims as being multiply dependent upon each other irrespective of the fact that claims may be found without multiple dependency or redundancy. Where a feature is disclosed with respect to a particular aspect of the invention (for example a method of the invention), such disclosure is also to be considered to apply to any other aspect of the invention (for example a device of the invention) mutatis mutandis.