How safe is Retort Processing?

Validation strictly confirms that a specific processing procedure is pre-defined for only one type of processing for one type of product. Changes in the size or type of pouches, initial temperature, head space, product recipe, composition, orientation, loading pattern, cooling water temperature, changes in the number of products loaded in one batch etc will nullify the pre-defined validation procedure. So the processor should make sure that he is not changing any of such composition if he follow time profile for processing. Moreover in such cases, the processor should keep one specific retort dedicated to one type of products.

This way of processing eliminates the errors made by non-technical operators during the retort processing and will help to produce products with consistent quality if the processor adheres to all the required pre-determined parameters.

There are chances that the validated data might change during the course of the processing.

Validation of the retort confirms that the retort is working fine within its specifications at that specific time only. It does not guarantee that the situation remains same for the near future. A power failure, system failure, PLC complaint, sensor problem, problems at the supply lines ( steam, air , water lines etc), variation in initial temperature, blockage of the supply lines due to rusting, sedimentation, scaling, problems with the boiler, air compressor etc may happen at any time. So doing validation once in a while may not guarantee that the processing is done properly.

Normally the retort manufactures use RTDs or Pt 100 sensors for monitoring the temperature of the retort medium. These will be positioned at the corners of the retort and it will not indicate the actual temperature at the middle or cold spot of the retort. The sensing elements of such sensors are big and it indicates the average temperature of the total surface area of the sensor. Moreover a small shaking or accidental fall of such sensors may create a drift in the values. So very frequent calibration of these sensors are required to make sure that it is works properly.

More over many processors use different types of products to process in the same retort. This is against the validation rule. It strictly confirms to use only one type of product for one pre-defined process procedure.

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