Automated box chilling system speeds up seafood packing

30 Jun 2015

Seafood, meat and poultry currently packed with water ice or dry ice in boxes can be chilled more safely and efficiently when using the DRI PACK® automated box chilling system which uses the chilling power of carbon dioxide (CO2) snow, according to manufacturer Linde LLC.

Designed and built to USDA requirements, Linde says that the DRI PACK chilling system is ideal for seafood operations, and is intended for use with new or existing packaging operations. The automated chilling system quickly fills boxes (up to about 24 inches wide) with CO2 snow as they travel along a conveyor.

With the DRI PACK system, extremely cold CO2 snow quickly chills the food product, locking in moisture and preserving freshness and quality. A controlled flow of CO2 snow is directed into containers or boxes at temperatures of negative 109.3oF (minus 78.5oC). Once in the container, the CO2 snow does not melt; rather, through the process of sublimation, the CO2 provides the refrigeration to chill food - so there is never any liquid.

Linde says that the automated box chilling system offers safety advantages over chilling with water ice or dry ice pellets. Handling bagged ice or constantly shovelling water ice or CO2 pellets can lead to motion injuries. In addition, using CO2 pellets in totes or other open containers in packing plants poses a hazard, as CO2 is an odourless asphyxiant. The DRI PACK system eliminates the storage and physical handling of ice, and the equipment includes a shroud around the chute to vent waste gases to the outside.

Packing fresh fish, shellfish or other foods with ice by hand is inherently slow and labour intensive, and means variable chilling results. Additionally, ice made from water can melt in transit, causing handling issues and less-than-desirable product quality.

“With fish and seafood products retailing for $10 to $20 a pound or more, preserving
the product’s high-quality appearance, taste, and texture becomes extremely important”, said Ed Cordiano, Linde program manager, prepared foods and seafood.

The DRI PACK automated chilling system is part of a range of CO2 snow generating equipment from Linde that also includes: Hooded snow generators, CO2 snow horns, and the ACCU-CHILL® Combo Chiller that features an automated loading system for more accurate and consistent chilling of meat products packed and shipped in bulk combo bins.

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