Steam Valve Protects Packaged Foods, Vents During Cooking

Oct. 15, 2009
Manufacturers and packagers of home-heated foods can now provide hermetically-sealed protection against contaminants and more accurately regulate the in-home cooking process with a unique new steam valve system from Avery Dennison Industrial and Automotive Products Division. The steam valve system uses a proprietary design that provides a hermetic seal when applied over a pre-cut hole in flexible packaging or lidding film. During the cooking process, the valve opens at a predetermined temperature and allows steam to escape by exposing the structure’s slitted or perforated baffle layer. The system can be used in both microwave and oven applications.According to Avery Dennison’s Nick Greco, business development manager, the steam valve’s hermetic seal guards food products from contaminants more effectively than conventional steam-escape methods that employ unguarded perforations.“Pre-perforated holes or laser-score slits in the package’s film leaves the package open to possible contaminates because there is no hermetic seal,”Greco explains. “The Avery Dennison steam valve system eliminates exposure to these contaminates because the valve stays completely sealed until cooking.”Controlled Steam EscapeThe new steam valve system empowers food manufacturers to specify how much steam leaves a package during the cooking process, a capability that contributes to meals being properly cooked. “The Avery Dennison steam valve controls the rate of steam escaping the package,” Greco says. “Plus you also control the pressure inside the package.”“A food manufacturer might need to shed more moisture out of the package for a particular type of food or meal.  By working with Avery Dennison, manufacturers can tailor the package to the food product’s cooking requirements.”Additionally, the use of an external valve allows a steam release feature to be added without changing the package’s basic construction. Producers can continue to run the types of film structures that work best on their equipment.Printing and ApplicationSteam valves are completely clear, have excellent contact clarity and can be printed with text, graphics and logos in one color.Users can print and apply the valves (e.g. form fill and seal) or source finished packaging/packaging film with plain or printed steam valves pre-applied. Avery Dennison offers label applicators, printers and engineering assistance necessary to integrate the machinery into the existing packaging lines of both end users and packaging suppliers.