Food Packaging identified for new MATS processing

Rick Lingle
Packaging Digest

Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization improves on retorting by minimizing time-temperature requirements to produce healthier foods and cleaner labels. We interview a company principal about packaging options and requirements for MATS.
It isn’t every day that a new thermal processing method comes along, but that rare day occurred last week when 915 Labs announced plans for the first full-scale Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS) system that’s on order for installation at a North American food company processing facility. MATS is an alternative to retort processing used for canned foods and other products and packaging.

“Conventional thermal processing also causes significant damage to the flavor, texture, color and nutritional content of food,” says Mike Locatis, co-founder and CEO, 915 Labs. “MATS natural food processing and packaging solutions from 915 Labs provide a healthier, highly efficient and modern alternative to the old approach.”

By contrast, with MATS natural food processing, packaged food is simultaneously immersed in pressurized hot water and heated directly by 915 megahertz (MHz) frequency microwaves. Microwave energy can continued to be added to the packaged food above the water temperature.

Pilot-scale versions of 915 Labs’ microwave sterilization system, called the MATS-B (for batch), are already in place at two contract processing and packaging companies, AmeriQual, Evansville, IN, and Wornick Foods, Cincinnati, OH. The MATS-B system has ~ 30 x 15 ft footprint and outputs 50-100 packages per hour.

915 Labs’ first full-scale commercial system, the MATS-150, has been ordered and will be delivered to a major U.S. customer in 2017. Locatis said additional orders for the MATS-150, which is capable of processing 150 10.5oz food packages per minute, are pending around the world. The system has a footprint of ~150 x 15 ft, depending on options.

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