Sono-Tek Corporation has commercially launched its first ultrasonic spray coating equipment for antimicrobial applications for sliced meats.
The systems spray small uniform amounts of antimicrobial agents onto the surfaces of meat slices as they descend off industrial slicers at high speeds.
It can spray a 4 parallel meat logs arrangement, at slicing speeds exceeding 1300 slices per minute.
Industrial scale meat slicers operate at speeds from 250 to 1500 slices per minute.
The New York-based firm has introduced ultrasonic spray coating for other food industry applications, but it is the first time for meat slices.
Yossie Riemer, vice president of food business development, said that they had just sold three systems to a US processed meat manufacturer, whose name would remain confidential.
“[The] Sono-Tek customer of the first commercial installation for sliced meats is using LAE (Lauric Arginate),” he told FoodQualityNews.com.
“Other antimicrobial agents can be used as well, at the choice of the end-user, and according to the dosing recommendations of the specific antimicrobial manufacturer.”
He said spraying applications could include Potassium Sorbate onto high water activity baked goods (muffins) to inhibit mold growth and flavours on breakfast cereals to reduce cost, waste and improve environmental emissions.
Edible oils could be sprayed onto baked good (crackers; tortillas) to enhance flavour, texture and color while saving on COGs and enhancing safety of the work place and moisture barrier solution could be used on baked goods prior to freezing, to protect against freezer dehydration.
Sono-Tek uses its patented ultrasonic nozzles, which enable minimum “bounce back” and a high transfer coefficient which results in a micronic layer of antimicrobial coating, fully and uniformly covering both sides of each meat slice.
It is offered in a stand-alone model, where the controller adjusts variables such as flow rate, spray plume shape, “no product – no spray”, or as an integrated system with the high speed slicer.
“The system provides the sliced meat processor with an additional insurance against potential bacterial contamination by reducing the initial bacterial count.
“The unique advantage of the new Sono-Tek system is in its ability to deposit those anti-microbial agents uniformly in such low dosage which in turn allows the antimicrobial agent to be considered by the regulatory agencies as a "Processing Aid", and therefore exempt from being included on the product label.”
Accurate low dosing
Sono-Tek said that the accurate low dose coating capability is unmatched by any air pressure assisted spraying system.
“Ultrasonic spray coating generates uniform diameter size micronic droplets, with very minute kinetic energy, while pressure assisted spraying systems generate droplets with a wide range of diameter size, and with extremely high kinetic energy,” explained Riemer.
“As a result, ultrasonic spray coating provides accurate thin layer of uniform coating across the substrate, with a minimum "bounce back" effect.
“We provide systems with better than 95% transfer coefficient, while the generic pressure assisted spraying systems has a transfer coefficient in the range of only 40% - 60%.”
Riemer added that they are developing a similar Clean Label advantage system operating in concert with horizontal tray / vacuum formed packaging machines for meat and poultry cuts and for RTE meals.