One of the most important things to consider in the food and beverage industry is sterilization. Numerous laws and regulations exist to ensure the consumer’s safety. While the equipment used for bottling, canning, baking, and the like may be fully sterile according to the rules, the problem of flavor transfer can still exist.
If the wrong materials are used for the components, such as rubber flat washers, the flavor of one product may then get transferred to the next.
Even vigorously cleaning the equipment between the batches won’t help remove the odors and flavors if the wrong materials are employed and substances have become absorbed into the components.
The flavor is transferred from food or beverage to the seal and then goes into the next batch. In the best case, the flavor stays unchanged. In the worst case, it acquires an unpleasant rubbery taste. This can wreak disaster for any product manufacturer, even while keeping the product 100% safe according to the safety regulations.
With the right choice of sealing materials, this problem either can be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether.
Problems For The Beverage Industry
The flavor transfer problem is especially acute for the beverage industry. The number of drinks on the market is overwhelming. From fruit juices to soft drinks, one factory can go through thousands of flavors every day.
A quick change from one product to the next optimizes the work process and keeps the expenses to a minimum. However, speed and efficiency go out the door when a perfect flavor can’t be guaranteed. The right approach to the sealing portions of the equipment—that might retain traces of the previous batch—can help the manufacturer forget about flavor failures.
Different flavorings feature a variety of aromatic components, the effect of which on rubber washers, gaskets, seals, shims, etc. hasn’t been studied extensively. Depending on the chemical characteristics of the above-mentioned substances and their mixture, the resistance of the elastomer, as well as its absorption/release rates, can be measured.
When the right measurements are made, it’s possible to create tests that can help the manufacturers create the flavor-safe seals. Flat washers in a wide range of sizes and materials, like those from Superior Washer, can be used for some food and beverage processing applications to reliably ensure the integrity of each batch. This depends not only on the correct measurements of the components but the materials as well. Elastomers, like nylon and silicone, are some of the best options for such applications.
New Things To Consider When Choosing Elastomers
In the food and beverage processing industry, the majority of the attention goes to sterility and ability to withstand corrosive cleaning products, while providing high integrity and longevity.
Today, the industry players also need to pay attention to an elastomer’s ability to avoid flavor absorption and transfer to the following product batch.
One of the best possible materials, which can be suitable for the food and beverage industry seals is fluoroprene (2-fluoro-1,3-butadiene). Freudenberg Process Seals created a new material, Fluoroprene XP, which has shown excellent results for flavor absorption and transfer resistance.
Conclusion With so many things to consider when optimizing the food and beverage plant operation, choosing the right seal may be one of the last things checked. Meanwhile, the flavor problems elastomer seals pose can lead to disastrous consequences. Fluoroprene seals can help avoid the unnecessary flavor transfer from one batch to another.