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The Sadex E-beam Process

From the time a truckload of product arrives at the SADEX plant for e-beam treatment, monitoring and quality control processes are invoked. Since lot sizes and packaging varies widely between producers and product type, SADEX personnel immediately verify the amount and type of product provided against the Bill of Lading and other shipping documents. Once this verification is completed, skids of product are moved to a staging area near the inbound conveyor loading area. From this location, and depending on the product involved, between 15 and 50 pounds of product is loaded into individual carriers used to move the product through the remainder of the process.

Different materials, with differing densities and/or thickness, obligate different dose patternings of electron beams. Amount of dose given to a product is completely dependent on the customer's requirement to achieve a certain mirocrobial reduction, while preserving nutrition and safety. Computer settings are fixed for each individual product process, based on dose mappings that have been previously calculated and written into a Specific Product Supplement Agreement, or SPSA. An SPSA is the customer's way of verifying and approving the doses for each of their individual products. An SPSA must match the products codes of the received product for the SureTrack system to operate. For certain products and/or packaging, attenuation is necessary prior to treatment.

Attenuation involves SADEX adding certain types of material, external to the consumer products, to increase the density of the products being processed to achieve the proper dose, and e-beam penetration.

Once the computer settings are fixed according to the SPSA, and the load entered into the SureTrack processing system according to its lot and product codes, the product is passed along a conveyor system leading to the process table, where it moves at a pre-determined speed through the dual beam lines absorbing the customer-requested range of dose, measured in kilograys. Upon leaving the process table, the carriers, now containing the processed, treated product, move rapidly along the outbound conveyor system to the outbound unloading area where the product is removed and repalletized for shipment.

During the repalletization process, the monitoring and documentation continue as the pallets are labeled with a placard containing Company Name, Lot Number, Pallet Number, and Date received and processed. In addition, a Certificate of Analysis accompanies the skids of product that are loaded back on the truck for shipment.

To ensure that the product actually receives the correct dose, readings are taken from dosimeters comprised of alanine pellets or alanine coated film strips. These dosimeters are placed inside a panel called a phantom and run through the treatment process with the product. The alanine traps the highly stable alanine free radicals that are produced during the electron beam process. The dosimeter is then read to determine and document how much irradiative energy was administered during processing. Dosimeter testing is done at least three times during a product's processing ”before the first carrier, after the last carrier, and at the halfway point of the complete load” to verify dose received throughout the entire shipment.

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