A mixture of fear and seeing great potential motivated Guy Giordano to buy a high-pressure pasteurization system (HPP) just over a year ago. “We had a single product show up with listeria in Georgia in 2005. All told, that incident cost me $4 million,” Giordano recalls. “I don’t even think it was our fault, but there’s no way to be sure.”
But he didn’t want it ever to happen again. Not for the public health danger. Not for the danger it posed to the survival of his company, Vincent Giordano Corp. (www.vgiordano.com), and his plans to turn over that company to his children.
The Giordano family has been selling food in Philadelphia for more than 100 years. The family business evolved into Vincent Giordano Corp., supplying corned beef, roast beef, pastrami and other deli meats to area retailers, delis and restaurants. Those delicately cooked meats are susceptible to bacteria, such as listeria. Plus Giordano saw the growing trends toward minimal processing, fewer chemicals and preservatives and “natural” claims.
So he bought an HPP system from NC Hyperbaric (www.hiperbaric.com). The machine has 420 liters in its cylinder, which Giordano claims was the largest available at that time. Up to 500 lbs. of product can be loaded onto carriers, which travel horizontally into the chamber, where they are subjected to 87,000 psi of pressure for 5-7 minutes, depending upon the product.
The pressure destroys all pathogens without heat or any physical changes in the product. While food safety is the primary goal, it also extends shelf life – Giordano estimates up to four or five times.
The system was up and running in late 2010. “Now every Vincent Giordano product goes through that machine,” Giordano says, allowing him to sleep a little easier at night. Cost and utilization were other matters, however. “It’s an amazing and reliable technology – but a little expensive,” he admits. So he set up a standalone company, Safe Pac (www.safepac.biz) as a toll processor to take on as much contract work as possible to pay off the machine. Together with a new building to house the business, Giordano has invested about $4 million in Safe Pac.
“It can do deli salads, entrees and side dishes, soups, almost any ready-to-eat food product in a sealed package,” he says. He even runs some products for competitors, who want to make an “all-natural, no preservative” claim on their packages.
This past summer, Subway honored Safe Pac, one of its suppliers, with an award for innovation in food safety.
In addition to NC Hyperbaric, HPP machines are being marketed by Avure Technologies (www.avure.com) and High Pressure Dynamics (www.highpressuredynamics.com). Plus, like Safe Pac, a number of processors and contract manufacturers that have invested in HPP machines also are offering toll processing on their systems.