Aseptic Beverage Bottling Gea's ABF Technology Receives FDA Clearance
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded Gea a letter of no objection (Lono) for its ABF 1.2 technology, an integrated blowing, filling and capping solution featuring a fully aseptic rotary blowing machine. It is the only system equipped with a 100 % aseptic blower that is allowed to produce shelf-stable low acid (LA) beverages free from preservatives for distribution at ambient temperature in the US market.
Düsseldorf/Germany — The FDA testing is considered one of the most comprehensive validation protocols available in the aseptic beverage market. The clearance confirms that the ABF 1.2 technology ensures maximum sterilization efficiency and reliability during every step of sensitive beverage bottling. The company successfully passed the validation tests which were performed on an ABF 1.2 system installed in the US — and which is now already producing and delivering shelf-stable liquid dairy products to the North-American market.
According to Alessandro Bellò, Head of Blowing, Filling and Packaging applications at Gea, this system erases the risk of recontamination of any drinks during filling through fully automated operations. With ABF, the company achieved a full decontamination process control that was unique in the market, he added.
Complete Control of Sterilization Performance
The solution is based on an integrated blowing, filling and capping process that runs within a 100 % aseptic environment. Thanks to the microbiological isolator, the ABF 1.2 aseptically blows preforms that have been previously treated with hydrogen peroxide vapor (VHP). The result is a single zone sterilization process that requires no water and significantly fewer chemicals.
The company managed to maintain complete sterility during operations by placing the aseptic blowing wheel in the same sterile zone where the filling and capping processes are performed. The newly blown sterile bottles are transferred to the filling and capping carousels without leaving the sterile zone. That’s why the engineering company does not need any unnecessary H2O2 carry-over in the following modules. Beverage producers can completely monitor and control the preform sterilization process with the Smart Sensor, which checks the spraying performance of each sterilization nozzle just before the preforms are treated. The environmental sterilization process is completely automated requiring no manual intervention from the operator, therefore decreasing any risk of system recontamination, the company claims.