Food packagers, brewers, diary farms, and other food and beverage operations used to be stuck with old-fashioned stove-top “pressure cooker”-style sterilizer (otherwise known as “the poor man’s autoclave.”) Fortunately, the quickening pace of bio-medical research has driven the development of smaller “research-grade” autoclaves, perfect for other markets including industrial kitchens, microbreweries, and other food production facilities. With the industry shift towards a proactive food safety model, autoclaves have become more important than ever for preventing outbreaks of E. coli and other food-borne illness.
Food & Beverage Autoclaves: More than “Sterilizers”
A traditional “medical-grade” sterilizer (i.e., anything that could be used in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital) is designed to take clean instruments and glassware and make them sterile. A “research-grade” autoclave, on the other hand, is designed to take anything and heat it to a specific temperature at a specific pressure for a specific period of time. This can be a key component of end-product testing in the food and beverage industry.
Can you use a research-grade autoclave to sterilize bottles, instruments, and trays? Certainly. But, in contrast to a medical-grade autoclave, it also has the precision controls and cycle logging you need to develop and test new products. Any application that calls for the regulated application of heat and pressure is a reasonable use for a research-grade autoclave. For example, the real “secret” to Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn’t “eleven herbs and spices”; it was cooking the chicken in a modified autoclave. For that matter, you can cook a 14 pound turkey in just 1.5 hours in a steam autoclave—that’s one-quarter the normal cooking time (and a novel application sure to impress, or frighten, your in-laws).
There’s even recently been research into using bench top autoclaves to reduce the number of allergens found in food.
The Autoclave for Product Development and Quality Assurance
Modern research-grade autoclaves equipped with computerized control systems can precisely vary temperature and pressure settings throughout the course of a cycle—making them ideal for research and development, as well as quality assurance and shelf-life testing. The right autoclave can both help you propagate new yeast cultures for your latest microbrew and do the accelerated shelf-life testing to be sure that those bottles will be just as tasty when they reach store shelves as they were when you tapped the keg.
Find out what a Priorclave can do for you: Contact us for an honest, no obligation assessment of your needs.