Aseptic describes a condition in which there is an absence of micro-organisms including viable spores. In the food industry the terms aseptic, sterile and commercial sterility are often interchangeably. The term “aseptic” is derived from the Greek word “septicos” which means the absence of putrefactive micro-organisms.
Aseptic packaging can be defined as the filling of a commercially sterile product into a sterile container under aseptic conditions and hermetically sealing the containers so that re-infection is prevented. This results in a product, which is shelf-stable at ambient conditions. In practice, generally there are two specific fields of application of aseptic packaging technology:
- Packaging of pre-sterilised and sterile products.
- Packaging of non-sterile product to avoid infection by micro-organisms.
Aseptic System refers to the entire system necessary to produce a commercially sterile product contained in a hermetically sealed container. The term includes the product processing system and the filling and packaging system, give below in figure:
Advantages of Aseptic Packaging Technology: The three main advantages of using aseptic packaging technology are:
- Packaging materials, which are unsuitable for in-package sterilization can be used. Therefore, light weight materials consuming less space offering convenient features and with low cost such as paper and flexible and semi-rigid plastic materials can be used gainfully.
- Sterilization process of high-temperature-short time (HTST) for aseptic packaging is thermally efficient and generally gives rise to products of high quality and nutritive value compared to those processed at lower temperatures for longer time.
- Extension of shelf-life of products at normal temperatures by packing them aseptically.
Besides the features mentioned above, additional advantages are that the HTST process utilizes less energy, as part of the process-heat is recovered through the heat exchangers and the aseptic process is a modern continuous flow process needing fewer operators.