The plant’s on-site quality assurance lab is approved by the FDA and the state of California. The lab tests a 2-ounce vial of milk from every tanker. The lab conducts all raw milk testing (except for payment samples), fats and solids tests, composition test, 48-hour hold-and-release testing and end-of-code testing.
The lab also tests ESL start-up samples pulled by filler operators. Line samples are taken by the lab hourly and held for 48 hours in a storage room in the lab. Elsewhere in the plant, samples from every run (including branded and co-packed products) are retained and held in a cold room for seven days past code date.
Aseptic quality protocols are more extensive, and a governmental agency approves the release of product for sale, Hardy said. Two QA technicians work in the aseptic packaging room and are responsible for sampling and testing. Aseptic samples are held for 10 days at 86 degrees before being released. The California Department of Public Health conducts a final document review and approves the product for sale.
HP Hood chairman Kaneb called the decision to buy an aseptic filler for Sacramento a “$40 million bet” for each filler and associated infrastructure. He said, “If you don’t have extremely well-trained people running your system, you are courting big trouble legally and financially.”
Aseptically packaged beverages in portable containers are “useful for the civilization we live in,” he said. And while consumers are on the go seemingly 24/7, they’ll never reach the speed of the rotary aseptic filler.
At A Glance
HP Hood Interstate Milk Shippers plant 06-01, Sacramento, Calif.
- Year built: 1970 by Safeway. Acquired by Hood in 2007 from Crystal Cream & Butter Co.
- Size of plant: 130,000 square feet on 37 acres
- Employees: 135
- Products: Extended shelf life (ESL) and aseptic dairy and nondairy beverages, including milk, organic milk, cream, almond milks and high-protein beverages.
- Capacity: 45 million gallons a year
- Silos:4 raw milk silos totaling 220,000 gallons; 22 finished silos
- Pasteurization: ESL and aseptic
- Fillers: 1 ESL quart filler, 2 ESL half-gallon fillers, 1 ESL half-gallon filler, 1 ESL rotary plastic filler, 1 aseptic high-speed plastic rotary filler for low-acid products