RETORT POUCH PROCESSING OF FOODS

Retort processing of foods in rigid, semi-rigid and flexible packaging systems is the most acceptable form of food preservation. It represents unique combination of package, process and product technology with potential, economic benefits. Traditionally, tin containers have contributed to a large extent in building the confidence in processed foods. The increasing public awareness and aversion to accept other methods of food preservation like chemical preservation, irraDIATion, etc. have offered a vast scope for retort processing of foods.

DRDO has done pioneering work in the field of retort pouch processing of various Indian foods using indigenous materials and equipment. A number of different virgin, multiplayer and co-extruded packaging materials such as polypropylene nylon (pp/nylon/pp), polyester cast propylene (pet/c.pp) and polyester aluminium foil cast polypropylene (PET/A foil/C.PP) have been evaluated for their mechanical strength to withstand retort conditions at temperature up to 135 0C, optimum oxygen barrier properties, compatibility with the food products and required shelf-life of 12 months under ambient conditions. DRDO has developed various vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods for the Services. Some of the products include sooji halwa, upma, channa curry, chicken curry, mutton curry, fish curry, avail, potato-peas curry, mushroom curry, vegetable pulav, chicken pulav, mutton pulav, etc.

DRDO has also designed and fabricated a semi-automatic bulk steriliser with a capacity of 250 kg batch. It offers many advantages such as rapid heating and cooling, uniform distribution of pressure and temperature and better package integrity by overriding pressure. Since it is indigenous and cost effective, it is affordable by the Indian food industry and is suitable for small scale operations.

The technology for retort pouch processing of foods has been transferred to 17 firms. Some of them are already supplying processed food to Armed Forces. It is also being exported to the developed countries to cater the food requirements of ethnic population from Indian sub-continent.