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CleanPack Report Summary

Project ID: 777900

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CleanPack (UltraCLEAN thermoforming equipment for food PACKaging, a cost-effective alternative to clean rooms)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The objective of CleanPack packaging machine is to provide at a small scale aseptic/ultraclean food packaging conditions, safety standards that until now only clean rooms of big food processors could ensure. In response to customers’ needs, TECSELOR is developing the CleanPack prototype that allows ultraclean/aseptic packaging conditions for food products, which will represent a cost-effective alternative to a clean room with the same level of food safety.
CleanPack goes beyond clean rooms in terms of shelf-life extension of foods. This goal could be achieved through a new packaging technique, which combines different patented technologies: sterile thermoforming and packaging, filling with surface decontamination of perishable fresh foods and ultraclean cutting of trays. The integration of these techniques in a whole CleanPack machine will allow SME-packaging to maintain the same level of food safety as clean rooms and extend shelf-life and freshness of their packed foods even more than big producers.
The industry sector of preparation and packaging of solid refrigerated foods such as dairy products, meat, fish, ready meals and salads or cut fruits and vegetables, is demanding increased levels of hygiene to package products with minimal microbial contamination or commercial sterility conditions (aseptically). CleanPack allow to extend food shelf-live, preserving fresh-like characteristics of food as clean label, since there is no need for addition of further chemical preservatives. The implementation of this milder technology also has the potential of reducing energy consumption and the dependence on cold-chain logistics, which enables decentralized production for a more sustainable and economic distribution-chain. Therefore, a huge array of SME food industries would achieve better products with extended shelf-life thanks to CleanPack, improving the competitiveness of the sector.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first stage of the project new designs of CleanPack have been performed, including the four modules and the aseptic enclosure: Thermoforming Module; Filling Module with essential oils for surface decontamination; Thermosealing Module; Cutting Module. All technical designs have been elaborated considering compatibility with the other modules, which has been essential for a successfully assembly of the whole CleanPack machine during the next stage of the project. Afterwards, the microbiologically controlled enclosure was successfully validated according to the ISO class 5 standard conditions (less than 100 particle size ≥0,5 μm; microbial count in the air ≤1 CFU/ft3), to ensure ultraclean conditions of the assembled machine.
The on-site validations have been started at the end of the first period, to verify the performance of the machine under real conditions and using different type of food products.
Additionally, the first communication, dissemination and commercialisation activities have been started, both at national and international level. CleanPack information has been published in TECSELOR website, social media networks and specialised media. Several demonstration actions have been developed in events related to food-industry and in meetings with potential clients. Moreover, an exhibition-truck containing the manufactured prototype has been developed to facilitate the transportation of the machine for several project tasks, such as the on-site validations or the demonstration and marketing activities. The preliminary results are positive, since several commercial contacts have been established with potential customers and distributors within the food-packaging technology industry.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

CleanPack is a unique solution will allow packaging-SMEs to maintain the same level of food safety as clean rooms and extend shelf-life and freshness of their packed foods even more than big producers. The four-module design of CleanPack machine can be adapted to different market and customers’ needs, resulting in a more efficient and economic process. In addition, the new decontamination technique using essential oils, within the filling module, helps to extend shelf-life of products, estimated at a minimum of 150%, without additional chemical preservatives. CleanPack technology also has the potential to reduce energy and costs within the food distribution chain, by decreasing the dependence from cold-chain logistics, enabling decentralized production and improving the competitiveness of the food sector.

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