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Challenge Accepted: Faster Cooling in Jamaica

The Challenge: Meeting Processing Time Requirements in a Hot Climate Area

Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted is a periodic review of how we solved a unique customer challenge.

Sometimes, where you make a product will dictate how you make it.  That was the case for a customer in Jamaica, a processor whose frozen food product contained ground meat.

Here’s some background to help you understand this customer’s processing challenge:  Among the strict guidelines that regulatory agencies (e.g., the USDA) issue to food manufacturers are specific time limits for how long a ground meat product can be “in processing”.  Manufacturers take these seriously, as failure to adhere to them can result in serious problems with the final product

In the case of our Jamaican customer, the overall processing time limit for the ground meat became an obstacle due to their climate and local utilities.  After cooking the meat in a specially designed kettle and continuing to mix it as necessary while the kettle temperature was reduced using local utilities, they found that the region’s tropical temperatures were keeping the meat from cooling fast enough to be transferred downline or to the freezer within the allotted time. 

The Solution: Separate Wide Cooling Vessel

Faced with this challenge of quickly, but safely cooling the cooked meat within the required time, Lee engineers pursued an innovative concept:  rather than continuing to mix the cooked meat in the cooking vessel while the vessel’s temperature reduced, the meat could be immediately transferred to a separate pre-chilled cooling vessel.  This would save valuable processing time without affecting product quality.

Based on thermal calculations, the engineers confirmed the concept of a separate cooling vessel was viable.  To further reduce the cooling time, the vessel was designed using a wider diameter with increased heat surface area and a more efficient jacket design.

The specially designed cooling vessel has worked perfectly.  The cooked ground meat is moved immediately to the separate pre-chilled vessel where its temperature is quickly reduced, making it easy to complete processing in time.  From there, the product is transferred downline or onto the blast freezer.  Challenge solved!

Although this challenge arose due to the hot climate in Jamaica, it illustrates the variables that can affect any individual processing situation.  Lee engineers have the experience and resources to solve complex processing problems, so if you have a challenge you’re struggling with, be sure to let us know about it.


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