Food and Beverage Processing, Distribution and Storage

Oxygen in the ambient air surrounding food and drinks reacts easily with the products resulting in oxidation that will change the flavor, color or speed up the rotting process of the products. To slow down the degradation process food products are stored and packed in protective atmosphere where oxygen levels are low. Nitrogen or CO2 are used to blanket the space around food, a measure that helps stabilize it and extend the shelf life.

Process Sensing Technologies’ oxygen analyzers are often used to measure the quality of the blanketing gas in the packaging processes.

Carefully monitoring and controlling the oxygen level is crucial during the brewing process. In certain stages of the brewing process the presence of oxygen is detrimental, while for some processes controlled levels of oxygen are necessary. For example, oxygen influences brewing productivity: yeast needs approximately 10-12 ppm oxygen to thrive. However, too much oxygen leads to oxidative formation and degradation of flavors.

It is essential to keep oxygen at the desired low levels during beer production and monitor the O2 with an O2 analyzer. This ensures the highest quality of the final product is maintained.

Controlling levels of humidity for food processing and storage is important not only for product quality, but also to provide the optimum conditions for storage and transport to prevent spoilage.

The measurement of water activity or equilibrium relative humidity (ERH) is a key parameter in the quality control of moisture sensitive products or materials. If there is too much water in a product, there is a risk of microbial growth and water migration. This can lead to clumping, changes in consistency and reduced shelf-life. Manufacturers of foods and pharmaceutical products must, for example, show to the FDA that the water activity of a product has declined to such an extent that bacteria can no longer grow.

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