Retort processing of
foods in rigid, semi-rigid and flexible packaging systems is the most
acceptable form of food preservation. It represents unique combination of
package, process and product technology with potential, economic benefits.
Traditionally, tin containers have contributed to a large extent in building
the confidence in processed foods. The increasing public awareness and
aversion to accept other methods of food preservation like chemical
preservation, irraDIATion, etc. have offered a vast scope for retort
processing of foods.
DRDO has done pioneering work in the field of retort pouch processing of
various Indian foods using indigenous materials and equipment. A number of
different virgin, multiplayer and co-extruded packaging materials such as
polypropylene nylon (pp/nylon/pp), polyester cast propylene (pet/c.pp) and
polyester aluminium foil cast polypropylene (PET/A foil/C.PP) have been
evaluated for their mechanical strength to withstand retort conditions at
temperature up to 135 0C, optimum oxygen barrier properties, compatibility
with the food products and required shelf-life of 12 months under ambient
conditions. DRDO has developed various vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods
for the Services. Some of the products include sooji halwa, upma, channa
curry, chicken curry, mutton curry, fish curry, avail, potato-peas curry,
mushroom curry, vegetable pulav, chicken pulav, mutton pulav, etc.
DRDO has also designed and fabricated a semi-automatic bulk steriliser with
a capacity of 250 kg batch. It offers many advantages such as rapid heating
and cooling, uniform distribution of pressure and temperature and better
package integrity by overriding pressure. Since it is indigenous and cost
effective, it is affordable by the Indian food industry and is suitable for
small scale operations.
The technology for retort pouch processing of foods has been transferred to
17 firms. Some of them are already supplying processed food to Armed Forces.
It is also being exported to the developed countries to cater the food
requirements of ethnic population from Indian sub-continent.