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What are retorted products?

from the Happy Camper Help & FAQ's Page

Canning as a method of food preservation was first pioneered in the 1790′s. It was discovered that the application of heat to food in sealed containers preserved the food from deterioration. Later Louis Pasteur explained that the elimination of microorganisms was the key to preventing food spoilage and illness.
The development of the pressure retort (canner) in the 1850′s allowed temperatures above 100OC to be achieved. These temperatures ensured virtually all microorganisms were destroyed to achieve commercial sterilization – complete elimination of harmful microorganisms. Cook temperatures up to 120OC are ideal to achieve this.
Whilst most foods were traditionally retorted in cans and then eventually glass jars, recent developments in polymer technology have seen the emergence of plastic pouches. These pouches are able to be sealed with virtually the same strength as cans/jars.
Consumer confidence in this type of product preservation is growing with public education as to the benefits of these techniques.
The emergence of these products has necessitated the need to change the terminology from “canned product” to “retort product”.

Why retort products?

Retort processing of foods in rigid, semi-rigid and flexible packaging is the most acceptable form of food preservation. It represents a unique combination of package, process and product technology. Product can be stored at room temperature for up eighteen months and easily reheated in a microwave to achieve the colour, texture, flavour and nutrient attributes of a freshly cooked meal.

What are the risks of retorted products?

The main risk for retorted products is the integrity of the seals. A container (can, glass jar or pouch) maintains its commercial sterility as long as the seals are maintained to prevent entry of microorganisms. Damaged containers with leaking seals must be discarded.

Why only 18 months shelf life?

We have actually tested the meals out to 3 years and they are still “edible” but the only thing that really breaks down is the flavour but they actually don’t “Go Off”, much a like having a can of tuna in your cupboard for a long period of time, when you open the can it hasn’t gone off (unless the can was pierced) but the flavour may not be the same it was on the first day it was produced. Meat products normally have a limited shelf life. This is because the quality attributes of meat deteriorate over time. Most noticeable meat products tend to become rancid with oxidation of fats and oils, so in theory if the seal of the package is maintained, the sterility should be maintained however, flavour and colour tend to be effected over time.