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Quality assurance
A successful pouch packaging quality system requires:
• selection and continued monitoring of the most suitable laminate materials
• regular testing of formed pouches for seal strength, product resistance and
freedom from taint
• careful selection, maintenance and control of filling, sealing, processing
and handling machinery
• specifications for the control of product formulation, preparation (viscosity, aeration, fill temperature etc.) and filling (ingoing mass and absence
of seal contamination)
• post sealing inspection and testing of closure seals to confirm fusion,
absence of defects and contamination
• control of critical parameters influencing processing lethality such as
maximum pouch thickness and residual air content
• standardised retorting procedures applying only recommended process
times and temperatures confirmed to achieve adequate lethality
• regular inspection and testing of retort equipment and controls to ensure
uniform heat distribution
• visual inspection of all pouches to check sealing after processing
• handling only of dry pouches and packing into collective or individual
outer packaging specially tested to provide adequate, subsequent, abuse
• it should be routine that all stocks are held 10–14 days prior to distribution and these should be free of blown spoilage on despatch
• careful staff selection and training at all levels.
Shelf life
Whilst shelf life is determined by many factors such as storage temperature
and the barrier properties of the particular film used, in general, satisfactory
shelf stability in excess of two years is easily obtained for a wide range of
products in foil bearing pouches. US military rations tested over two years at
20°C showed no significant change in product quality ratings. Some products
have been successfully stored for as long as seven years and found to be safe
and edible.
Foil-free laminates will demonstrate shelf stability commensurate with oxygen
permeability of the particular laminate used and the sensitivity of the product.
Commercial experience confirms, however, that product stability from four
weeks to six months is obtainable. Nitrogen flushing of the outer container has
been successful in extending the shelf life of product in foil-free pouches.
Extensive testing under combat conditions by the US Army has proved that
retort pouches if correctly packed are well able to stand up to rough conditions