CIFT provides the following services for food processors:
Food Safety Consulting
CIFT's expert network of food scientists offers a full range of food safety services to food processors through microbiological consulting and testing, food safety auditing, and food safety and quality training. We also help processors develop food product handling practices and procedures, including worker hygiene and sanitation practices.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists recalls, withdrawals and alerts on their website, which includes the most significant product actions of the last 60 days, based on the extent of distribution and the degree of health risk. Learn more about the latest FDA food recall notices.
The Ohio MEP is a regional effort coordinated by CIFT which combines resources from Ohio entities located at Northwest State Community College (Archbold) and Rhodes State College (Lima), who serve as partners in delivering valuable services to manufacturers within a 19 county territory.
The Ohio MEP offices serve as partners in delivering valuable services to manufacturers across Ohio. Plus, staff has resources available beyond northwest Ohio through other Ohio MEP partners. Click here to learn more.
Expanding Processing Techniques
Ohio is at the epicenter for advanced food processing and packaging technologies. Application of these techniques will result in the production of higher quality food products, improved safety, and reduced use of chemical preservatives, appealing to consumer preferences for cleaner labels and minimally processed foods. Market forces, consumer preferences, and government regulations are creating shifts in the types of products and packaging.
- Consumers are increasingly demanding that their products be "fresh," "natural," and packaged in "environmentally friendly" materials.
- The logistics of the retail industry requires extended shelf life to compensate for shipping from producer to wholesale distributors, regional warehouses, and retail establishments.
- High costs, shipping weights, and consumer preferences are making products traditionally packaged in metal cans less desirable than those in flexible, shelf stable (no requirement for refrigeration) packaging.
These trends have led to the adoption and rapid growth of several processing techniques that produce premium products to satisfy these demands.
High Pressure Processing
The secret to fresh, flavorful foods and beverages with a longer shelf life without chemicals, additives or heat is possible through High Pressure Processing (HPP). By processing foods at extremely high water pressure (up to 6,000 bar/87,000 psi), HPP neutralize listeria, salmonella, E. coli and other deadly bacteria.
Unlike thermal, chemical and other high-heat treatments, HPP is achieved by cold water. Food taste, texture and quality remains at the same level of quality, and in some cases, are enhanced. In addition, it can extend shelf life up to two or three times longer than traditionally preservation methods. The technique is applicable to juices, beverages, meat, poultry, salsa, guacamole, ready-to-eat meals, deli salads, dairy, and more.
"Stand-Up" Retort Pouches
Flexible packaging allows for enhanced ease of use by consumers, and is being increasingly used by large manufacturers because of the purchasing appeal. It represents an opportunity for improved storage and reusability, both of which are desired traits by consumers. HPM Global, Inc., suggests that flexible packaging has lower material costs, is more energy efficient, cooks product in 40 percent less time, consumes 85 percent less storage space, and provides products with improved food quality due to reduced heat exposure than metal cans. In particular, the "stand up" pouch is rapidly gaining acceptance and market share. It has been estimated that this sector is growing and will continue to grow at an annual rate of 15 percent (Prepared Foods Magazine, 2013). Many companies that have traditionally packaged in metal cans are expanding into these lighter, easier to use, and environmentally-friendly containers for their products.
"Next Generation" Aseptic Packaging
Aseptic processing is the process by which a sterile product is packaged in a container in a way that maintains sterility. Sterility is achieved with a flash-heating process (temperature between 195 and 295 F) which retains more nutrients and uses less energy than conventional techniques such as retort or hot-fill canning. Aseptic food preservation methods allow processed food to keep for long periods of time without preservatives, as long as they are not opened.
Aseptic processing is commonly used for with milks, fruit juices, liquid whole eggs, gravies, and tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are aseptically processed and packaged for year-round remanufacture into various food products. An aseptic package has been sterilized prior to filling with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) treated food, resulting in a product which is shelf stable for more than six months. Aseptic processing procedures often use steam or hot water under pressure.
CIFT has access to a continuously updated collection of market research information with more than 300,000 reports from 700 leading global publishers. With this tool, assistance can be offered to Ohio food companies on new product trends, the latest in packaging, emerging ethnic foods, or competitive analysis of new or existing markets. Such information is critical to maintaining a competitive edge in new and established markets.
Through this service, general reports associated with trends to specific IRI data and industry analysis on a product category can be achieved. CIFT member companies have access to such information as a compliment to inclusion within the consortium, and are provided one complimentary market research report per year, with additional reports available for a nominal fee. Companies not yet affiliated with the membership are able to gain access for a fee. Examples of reports include the following:
- Strategies for Managing Food and Drink Flavor Portfolios, July 2015
- Flavor Appeal in Yogurt, July 2015
- Ingredients Across FMCG - What Consumers Are Saying, July 2015
- Ancient Grains: Bakery and Beyond, July 2015
Product and Package Development
New and emerging technologies in the areas of food processing, preservation and packaging are widespread. CIFT's network of food scientists and business advisors work with industry and academia to bring innovations to the marketplace, helping food processors optimize their operations.
Technology Development & Prototyping
CIFT collaborates with a variety of food equipment manufacturers to develop prototype equipment for evaluation and commercialization. By tapping into available resources, food based companies can benefit from new equipment applications and technologies and, ultimately, enhance their competitiveness within the marketplace.
Extending your team of engineers when the need arises, CIFT provides engineering assistance to food equipment companies on a project-by-project basis.
CIFT leads the way in the commercialization of several newly patented technologies. Our equipment partners play a critical role in the commercialization process by exploring, designing, building and helping to market the novel equipment. As a result, equipment manufacturers develop new relationships and generate additional business revenue.
Utilizing a network of university researchers, government agencies, and industry suppliers, CIFT actively pursues research opportunities with an emphasis on potential commercial interest. Many of these applications involve connecting equipment manufacturers to develop pilot plant equipment with the ultimate goal of product and process commercialization.
Waste Reduction & Remediation
CIFT's staff of engineers specializes in identifying Pollution Prevention (P2) initiatives that have a positive impact on bottom line financials. CIFT helps reduce the adverse impacts of wastewater and manage process wastes and by-products, including reducing the impact of wastewater discharge through innovative treatment and/or reuse of process water. Our expertise includes environmental regulatory compliance that relates to wastewater discharge, air emissions, storm water, pollution prevention plans, and spill prevention control plans.
Energy Efficiency Consulting
Energy usage and efficiency is a priority issue for greenhouse operators. CIFT’s staff of engineers performs energy use assessments to identify energy efficiency and cost savings opportunities through implementation of energy efficient equipment, controls and processes. An Energy Usage and Cost Analysis includes power rate structures, tariff analysis, as well as electrical usage and demand trend analysis. Feasibility, program development and implementation recommendations are essential in successful energy efficiency improvements.