A Quick Way to Improve
Productivity: Hold the Ice
By Mark DiMaggio, Head of Food & Beverage, Linde LLC
More meat, poultry and seafood processors are looking for alternatives to chilling with dry ice pellets. Some plants have never used anything else, and are now growing.
Yet many processors are now reviewing chilling operations more
broadly for productivity improvements because several things are
coming into focus at once:
• Maintaining plant productivity depends on reliable supply
• Chilling with dry ice pellets is labor intensive and can produce uneven results.
• Food safety and quality are more vital than ever.
New requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act
(FSMA) that went into effect earlier this year, mean processors
must now manage the food safety of dry ice and food-contact
gases as food ingredients. So that is one key reason processors
are looking at their supply chains, and now questioning the use of
On-demand CO2 snow generation systems are a primary alternative to purchasing pellets because they provide processors
greater control — over productivity, improved quality, food safety,
and labor costs. They can be implemented quickly, especially in
plants that already store liquid CO2 on-site for use in cryogenic
freezers or advanced bottom-injection chilling systems for mixers/
There is no waiting with on-demand CO2 snow generators. CO2
snow generation systems change liquid CO2 into a stream of snow
that can be channeled into boxes, combo bins, or mixers/blenders.
Because it is generated only as needed, there is far less waste
than with pellets, resulting in reduced operating costs. CO2 snow
solutions can be installed for a single processing area, or multiple
areas to improve productivity of chilling operations across the
plant — from rapidly and accurately
reducing temperatures of fresh meat,
poultry or seafood in combo bins, to
chilling fresh food in packaging boxes
as they move along a conveyor line.
Automated CO2 snow generation
systems take the guess work out of
manual chilling methods for more consistent temperatures across the food
Food-grade liquid CO2 is stored in a
pressurized tank on-site and delivered
through a cryogenic piping system
to use points inside the plant. With
CO2 snow generation
systems can reduce
or eliminate the
costs involved with
storing pellets inside,
and free up valuable
floorspace to further
generating equipment should be professionally engineered and
custom designed for maximizing productivity. CO2 nozzles must be
sized to deliver a gentle flow of CO2 snow that minimizes cryogen
use while maximizing BTU transfer across the food product.
Rapidly achieving and maintaining cold temperatures of food
products is vital to control foodborne pathogens during processing. Carbon dioxide is a solid at minus -109 degrees F, and unlike
traditional water ice, CO2 sublimes so it will never melt to damage
food, or shipping cartons. Beyond their own plants, processors
must also pay close attention to their CO2 supply.
Under the new FSMA requirements, the production, packaging, transportation, handling and storage of food-contact CO2, in
all its forms, must now be fully documented at every step using
Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Prevention Control (HARPC). Major
producers of food and beverage grade gases certify production
facilities to Global Food Safety Initiative standards. Some also provide Quality Assurance testing, in addition to HARPC, and required
documentation of food safety audits.
Handling dry ice pellets is labor intensive, and the more handling that is required, the higher the costs. Moving pellet combos
around the plant, as well as loading and unloading, all take time,
and these operations are often associated with high rates of worker injuries, particularly motion injuries, as well as related costs for
health and liability insurance, and worker compensation claims.
Of course, managing supply and deliveries also takes time and
can pose major operational challenges. With on-demand CO2 snow
systems, long-term agreements with certified suppliers can eliminate the backaches and headaches of dry ice pellets, and help
ensure compliance with the new FSMA requirements.
Mark DiMaggio is a member of the National Chicken Council,
and has served on the technical and regulatory committee of the
National Turkey Federation.
This month's topic: