Thailand as a country is characterized by the diversity and quality of natural resources, plants, fruits and vegetables. As part of the food development strategy by PMUC to develop health promoting functional food, in addition to the production of ready-to-eat food and semi-processed food, freeze drying is an innovative solution in food processing, turning agricultural produce and raw materials into food with medicinal properties, with NASA as the model for producing high quality food products, which are light weight and easy to keep. Freeze drying is by freezing raw materials under low temperature and low pressure, then sublimating the ice into vapor which will help maintain important substances and special properties that are present in the food. Freeze-drying machines are now popular with high-quality food production businesses. More entrepreneurs are using the technology as a component in their production process. The machines used are of high quality with different prices. Quality testing of freeze dryers is therefore essential in the Thai food industry.
On March 30, 2022, the High-value Food Program Subcommittee visited Freeze Dryer Performance Test Unit, which receives funding from PMUC. The King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Ladkrabang (KMITL) is located within the Factory Classroom of the Faculty of Engineering at KMITL.
where a testing unit was established to determine the testing methods, perform testing of freeze dryers’ performance, provide testing services in various fields, such as testing the capability of the vacuum system for reducing the pressure and pressure leak inside the machine; testing the capabilities of the cooling and heating system and vapor capture, as well as maximum water condensation; testing temperature distribution and internal temperature control, as well as testing the electricity consumption of the device. The testing unit also provides consulting services for the design of production plant and freeze drying process. The freeze dryer performance test unit is therefore considered to be the one-stop center for manufacturers, and users of freeze dryers in the country.
Additionally, KMITL has a plan to establish a standard testing unit for food processing machinery, located in the Department of Food Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, to provide hygienic performance testing of food processing machinery in accordance with ISO14159 ,EN1672-2 standards and the European Hugienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) standards, to prevent harmful contamination of food products from physical, chemical and biological contaminants, considering the structural materials that come in contact with the food, as well as material surface preparation, which requires high-technology equipment and highly skilled experts in the area of assessment and evaluation. The project has collected data from various standards and consequently designed the Hygienic Equipment Design Checklists for use in assessment in conjunction with instrumental analysis such as stainless steel surface roughness/smoothness criteria; analysis of the chemical composition of the material, to ensure that the stainless steel material is suitable for use in food production; detection of other composite materials, including metals such as copper, brass, etc. The Food Processing Machinery Standard Testing Unit provides both on-site and off-site services including providing technical reporting services, consulting services, and training sessions to transfer knowledge on design principles based on hygienic standards by experts certified by EHEDG, European Union. All these efforts collectively contribute to raising the standards of the Thai food industry to the international level.