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Figure 19. Output documentation of computer-based on-line control system showing scheduled heating time of 68 minutes for normal process (above), and heating time extended automatically to 76 minutes in compensation for unscheduled temporary loss of retort temperature (process deviation) (below).

quite familiar with canned foods packed in traditional metal cans and glass jars. Perhaps less apparent is the important role that this technology has had and continues to have in promoting and sustaining the health and well-being of populations throughout the world. Although the major portion of canned foods produced throughout history has been used to help feed the consuming public, this technology has also played a very strategic role in major world events. The famous C-rations that supported military troops through the World Wars I and II were canned food rations. These rations remained safe and wholesome for consumption after long periods of storage and handling under highly stressful and abusive conditions.

Developments in new packaging materials and retort systems have brought about a host of innovative new canned food products that are often not recognized as being canned foods. Most canned food rations for today's military troops are packaged in flexible retort pouches; they are convenient, comfortable (soft), and lightweight when being carried on maneuvers. For feeding large numbers of military troops in field kitchens, canned foods come as fully prepared meals in large institutional-sized rectangular steam-table trays ready to heat and serve.

The increasing popularity of the microwave oven has created a demand for canned foods in microwavable containers that are ready to "pop and zap." This has led to the increasing success of complete prepared meals in attractive lunch bowls or dinner trays that can be placed in the microwave oven and be taken directly to the dinner table. Such products are hardly recognizable as traditional canned foods, but they are.

Perhaps least recognizable, however, is the important role that thermal processing technology has played in the pharmaceutical and health care industry. Large quantities and varieties of sterile solutions are required daily for surgical and patient care procedures. Sterile saline solutions, irrigation solutions, intravenous solutions with dextrose or glucose, and dialysate solutions, along with a host of other large-volume parenteral solutions in glass, plastic, flexible and semirigid containers, are sterilized in retort systems using the technology of canning for food preservation. Such products, of course, are neither thought of nor considered to be canned foods, but they are in fact a very important use of thermal processing technology throughout the world.

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