Retort Process

Retort food production line 4.1.2012

HeaterMeals and HeaterMeals Plus

HeaterMeals and HeaterMeals Plus meals are cooked in multi-layer tubs that allow for sterilization through a process called retorting. Retort technology was originally developed by NASA to preserve the natural flavor and nutrition in the freshest ingredients. The process of retorting begins once the meals are thoroughly cooked from scratch. They are then placed in their unique trays, vacuum sealed, then “flash-cooked” or sterilized in a “retort” using high heat. Similar to pasteurization, this cooking method ensures that our products taste terrific and retain their freshness for many months after manufacture without refrigeration and until the tray is opened.

HeaterMeals EX

Our HeaterMeals EX entrees are each produced in our specially prepared sealed retort pouch. The retort pouch is constructed from a flexible metal-plastic laminate which is able to withstand thermal processing via pasteurization. The food is first prepared and then sealed into the retort pouch. The pouch is then heated to 240-250°F (116-121°C) under high pressure. This process reliably kills all commonly occurring microorganisms and bacteria, preventing it from spoiling. The packaging process for the retort pouches is very similar to canning, except that the package itself is flexible.

Retort tray and pouch

The retort pouch was invented by the United States Army Natick R&D Command, Reynolds Metals Company, and Continental Flexible Packaging, who jointly received the Food Technology Industrial Achievement Award for its invention in 1978. Retortable pouches are extensively used by the US military for field rations (called Meals, Ready-to-Eat, or MREs).


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