PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 38

EQUIPMENT

The unique cone
shape of this vertical
cooling system
features multiple air
inlets that draw air
through the kibble
or dry pet treat for
consistent cooling.
Extru-Tech

single-pass horizontal or vertical cooler is sufficient,"
Henry said. "Treat products often require a more tailored
solution driven by extrusion process profile, raw material
matrix and desired finished product specifications. For
90% of the market (by volume), simple and cost-effective
[process utilities] provide the gold standard."
In kibble production, the primary cooling step occurs
after the product is coated. However, there is often a precoating cooling step that also plays an important role.
"This step is designed to create the best conditions for
absorption of liquids into the kibble," Martinez-Kawas
explained. "Typically, target optimal kibble temperatures are 50 C to 60 C for the coating step when using
atmospheric coating and 40 C to 50 C for vacuum coat-

ing. Higher temperatures can run the risk of triggering
condensation in the coating step, which can lead to scenarios that support microbial growth and product spoiling. Additionally, for some specialty goods a pre-cutting
cooling step is needed. Often in the case of long goods
that are extruded in a rope fashion, some cooling time is
needed in order to ensure consistent and correct cutting.
This is typically done on a belt cooling device."
Ultimately, a number of factors must be taken into
consideration when deciding on the best way to cool pet
food and treat products.
"The ideal cooler configuration depends upon several variables, including the manufacturing process, the
space available in the manufacturing plant, source of
cooling air, desired final product temperature, degree of
process control required, and the investment and operating cost of the cooler," Barber remarked.

Addressing cooling challenges
Food safety is one of the major challenges related to
cooling pet food and treats.
"The primary goal of cooling is to uniformly lower the
product temperature within a target delta of 5 C to the
ambient temperature of the packaging and warehouse
storage areas so as to avoid condensation, or 'sweating,'
of the product within the package, which would in turn
support scenarios for microbial growth and product
spoiling," Tramp said. "Two of the main challenges for
reaching this goal include that of consistent cooling of
the product as well as total cooling abilities. Meaning
having all product cooled to the same temperatures with
no hot spots as well as actually achieving the temperatures desired in the total cooling process."
In addition to product "sweating," improperly sanitized cooling equipment can lead to food safety issues.
"Soon after separate coolers evolved, the need for improved sanitation surfaced," Barber said. "When hot, fats
and oil materials are fairly fluid. But once cooled, they
congeal. Excess enrobing material tends to coat the interior surfaces of the cooler, forming a difficult-to-clean
substance that is normally not soluble in water. If machinery isn't thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, there is
the risk of product contamination."
In answer to the challenge of maintaining food safety,
manufacturers of cooling equipment are focusing on
hygienic design.
"Carefully designed hygienic equipment not only reduces the risk of contamination - and thereby, minimizes the possibility of costly product recalls - it also
maintains product quality, increases productivity, and
contributes to sustainability," Barber commented.
B├╝hler's Solis multi-pass pet food dryer has an open
channel frame, sloped surfaces, and a floor designed to

38

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