Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Rain Forest Effect

Honey (Photo credit: nanamin2003)
I remember solving a technical problem involving a raw material: liquid sugar. The sugar was used as part of a syrup in a narcotic cough suppresant  preparation. The issue was that this incoming raw material kept failing micro testing. This is surprising since sugar is an excellent preservative at concentrations over 50%. This material was in the 70% range and not dissimilar to honey. It was a very vexing problem. The issue turned out to be simple but not easily discovered. I noticed that when the lid was removed there was a layer of moisture that that dripped down onto the the syrup. What I realized was that this "rainforest effect" separated the sugar from the water. This water later dripped down onto the syrup or food if you will and allowed microbial proliferation on the surface. We discovered that the syrup was filled into drums at a very high temperature and allow to rapidly cool. The evaporated water condensed onto the lid and dripped back onto the syrup material. The solution was easy. Make sure the drums were filled to the top prior to shipment.
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