The objectives of the study were to evaluate on-line sensors and technologies to more easily monitor and control the processing conditions used in the manufacture of food products, and to validate techniques to monitor and control the processing conditions used in the manufacture of food products.
Advanced computer control strategies are now available or being developed to improve food quality and reduce the cost of processing. However, the food industry and regulatory agencies must address food safety concerns before these techniques can be applied to commercial processes. Catastrophic disturbances that could be caused by loss of electricity, steam pressure, vacuum, or air pressure could result in process deviations that are above the critical control limit and beyond the ability of these control systems to quickly respond. These process deviations could result in under-processed product that must be prevented from entering the food supply. Control for these catastrophic disturbances must be instantaneous to segregate under-processed food products. Products processed above the critical control limits could be automatically diverted to segregate under-processed product. In this study, the on-line temperature and pressure sensors were able to detect defects in a steam seal gasket of an aseptic pasteurization system as small as 1.5 mm. These results provide preliminary evidence that the temperature and pressure sensor and the monitoring technique can be effectively used to detect steam seal gaskets defects that could cause process deviations. These results provided the basis of proposing a new project "Monitoring and Control of Flow Diversion Valves for the Aseptic Processing of Dairy Products" that was accepted by the NCFST TAC.