Humidity causes food products deterioration, poor product quality, loss of aroma, flavor, discolration etc. It also causes growth of mold, mildew & fungus which is undesirable for any food items whether raw, semi finished or finished.
Food items are generally highly hygroscopic in nature have the tendency to absorb moisture. Humidity which is undesirable causes the product to be soggy, sticky & loss of product characteristics during storage/packaging/processing.
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Typical problems caused by high moisture/humidity:
Discoloration and loss of flavor and aroma
Sogginess ,Stickiness, lumping and caking
Poor Product quality
Less shelf life
Spoilage of food items (raw or finished) during storage/packaging
Growth of injurious activities of micro organisms
Challenges in drying of various food items
Bloom occurrence in chocolates
Mould formation in confectionery and candies
Loss of liquoring quality of tea/coffee
Drying of various food items is always tricky which can be due product characteristics. Some food can be dried at higher temperatures and some cannot. Generally low temperature drying is recommended to retain all product characterstics, aroma, taste, flavor etc. Low temperature drying is a slow process hence it is non productive and takes longer time to dry which not only increases the drying cost, less production but also uneconomical.
Product drying can be very effective & economical if combination of chemical dehumidifier & temperature control is used. Some products cannot be dried with temperature control only and can be dried effectively only with chemical dehumidification by controlling moisture.
In food the moisture control is important in the following areas:
Storage – both raw material & finished goods
R & D labs
Various food products are sensitive to high humidity, uncontrolled humidity effects product quality, loss of aroma, flavor, color, and decreases shelf life etc.High humidity also increases the injurious activity of microorganisms/mold mildew & fungus and can spoil the product itself
Raw material and finished products are also required to protect from high humidity. Hence is recommended to store under low humidity with temperature control (which is optional).
If processed/manufactured under controlled humidity conditions, controlling the moisture during packing is also equally important to avoid deterioration of product quality & increase shelf life of product.
R & D labs
Labs have various equipments & instruments, which are expensive and are highly sensitive to humidity. Also labs, depending upon type of product being handled, require humidity control.
Moisture can be controlled in various methods, but in food industry, since the humidity is required from 5% to 40% hence only chemical dehumidification is suitable. Most of the products are temperature sensitive also hence combination of temperature & humidity control is required. The RH which is required to be controlled, totally depends upon the product's nature i.e. how hygroscopic is the product. The more the hygroscopic the product is the lower the RH needs to be maintained.
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