In the US, Dean Foods has announced that its Morningstar Foods division has received approval from the Federal Drug Administration for a new aseptic filling technology that significantly extends the shelf life of dairy beverages.
Produced on the company's Stork filler line at its Virginia, US, facility, the technology is said to extend the shelf life of dairy-based beverages by up to 180 days, allowing such products to be stored and shipped at ambient temperatures.
Morningstar said that it will begin leveraging the Stork technology by processing its single-serve Hershey's flavoured milk and shake products and its Folgers Jakada coffee beverages on the Stork line. The company also anticipates installing another similar line in its California facility later this year.
"We are very enthusiastic about the opportunities this technology for our milk and soy-based products," said Gregg Engles, chairman and chief executive officer of Dean Foods. "Gaining FDA approval will enable us to further expand our distribution beyond traditional refrigerated channels for these products."
The Stork aseptic technology includes pasteurisation, homogenisation, bottle blow-moulding and filling procedures conducted in a completely sterile environment that earns the aseptic designation without the need for additives or preservatives. Dean Foods claims to be the first company to use the Stork plastic bottle technology commercially for dairy-based beverages.
Although aseptic filling technology has been gaining momentum within the dairy sector in recent years, the fact that this method of filling can extend shelf life by up to six months without the need for refrigeration will come as a major boon to the industry. Undoubtedly this patented technology will be keenly sort after by food manufacturers around the globe in the coming months.
Dean Foods is a leading US food and beverage companies specialising in dairy-related produce. The company operates over 120 plants in 38 US states and Spain, and employs more than 30,000 people.