Pixie dust sterilisation

New patented “Pixie Dust” sterilisation method for aseptic packaging

A US company has launched a new and economical way to sterilise flexible packaging and its contents – a viable alternative to the likes of hot-filling, retort processing, peroxide or peracetic baths and sprays, irradiation, pulsed light or electron-beam irradiation.

Performance Packaging of Nevada describes its patented process as a unique “liquid-to-gas” sterilisation process that it has code-named “Pixie Dust”.

Advantages of the Pixie Dust process cited by the company include:

  • A low-cost process that features GRAS materials.
  • Results of process residuals that are below the FDA threshold of regulation.
  • Sterilisation can occur during storage or shipping and is achieved in less than 48 hours at room temperature.
  • Use of the pixie dust procedure is smell and taste neutral.

Possible food Industry applications for Pixie Dust include flexible packaging such as stand-up pouches, bag-in-box, sealed packages. Performance Packaging is working with various companies to identify additional markets and partners for the new aseptic process.

During the testing process, the test organism Bacillus atrophaeus ATCC 9372 spores (which are highly resistant to heat and chemicals such as H2O2) were added to the package contents. A specific quantity of the Pixie Dust agent was then inserted into the package. 

After about two days, no viable spores were recovered from any of the treated samples, which included inoculations of four-litre, hot-fill, bag-in-box, 55-gallon-drum bags and 2½ gallon polyolefin milk bags. Even corners and gusset fold tests, along with laboratory-scale filling tests of treated pouches revealed no sign of bacterial growth, the company said.

In addition, Pixie Dust’s new developments and improvements are underway that predict rapid, in-line sterilization prior to filling.

“We are currently seeking worldwide partners in the pharmaceutical and food industries to implement this technology that crosses many platforms including device sterilisation as well as the foodstuff shelf life extension,” said president Rob Reinders.

“Regarding specific economic benefits of Pixie Dust, we have dramatically reduced the cost of the sterilisation process to an amount of, for example, about one cent of agent will treat approximately 750 000 pouches,” said Joseph Dunn, VP of R&D.

Dunn has more than 30 years of experience in industrial biochemistry and microbiology relating to packaging research. He is also the inventor of the use of pulsed light for packaging sterilisation and the author of more than 25 patents related to packaging industry safety processes. Throughout his career, he has worked closely with the US FDA.

Performance Packaging: http://www.pplv.co/index.php