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United States Patent Application 20170137204
Kind Code A1
PENNELLA; Jonathan May 18, 2017

PACKAGING CAPSULE FOR AT LEAST ONE PORTION OF FOOD

Abstract

A packaging capsule is described including an internal space configured to accommodate one portion of food. The internal space is delimited by a bottom surface with one planar portion, a side wall extending upwardly from the bottom surface and including, at a free end portion, a flange extending outwardly with respect to the internal space on a plane substantially parallel to the one planar portion, and a film removably associated with the flange. The flange has an easy-opening area configured for allowing grasping and initial detachment of the film from the flange. Two opposite first portions of the flange include respective reinforced portions defining both grasping elements for handling the capsule and supporting the rigidity of the capsule when it is out of a compartment of a household machine and guiding elements for guiding the capsule during insertion/extraction of the capsule into/from the compartment. A second portion of the flange, joining the two opposite first portions, includes a grasping portion for allowing inserting/removing the capsule into/from the compartment.


Inventors: PENNELLA; Jonathan; (BLONAY, CH)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

NUTRESIA SA

Chatel- St-Denis

CH
Family ID: 1000002448424
Appl. No.: 15/313944
Filed: July 14, 2014
PCT Filed: July 14, 2014
PCT NO: PCT/EP2014/065039
371 Date: November 23, 2016


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: B65D 81/34 20130101; B65D 43/02 20130101; B65D 25/205 20130101
International Class: B65D 81/34 20060101 B65D081/34; B65D 43/02 20060101 B65D043/02; B65D 25/20 20060101 B65D025/20

Claims



1. A packaging capsule for at least one portion of food, the capsule comprising an internal space configured to accommodate said at least one portion of food, said internal space being delimited by: a bottom surface having at least one planar portion; a side wall extending upwardly from said bottom surface and comprising, at a free end portion thereof, a flange extending outwardly with respect to said internal space on a plane substantially parallel to said at least one planar portion; and a film removably associated with said flange; said flange having an easy-opening area configured for allowing grasping and initial detachment of said film from said flange; wherein: two opposite first portions of said flange comprise respective reinforced portions defining, in at least a part thereof, both grasping elements for handling the capsule and supporting the rigidity of the capsule when it is out of a compartment of a household machine and guiding elements for guiding the capsule during insertion/extraction of the capsule into/from said compartment; a second portion of said flange, joining said two opposite first portions, comprises a grasping portion for allowing inserting/removing the capsule into/from said compartment.

2. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein said flange comprises a third portion joining said two opposite first portions and opposite to said second portion, said third portion comprising an abutment surface configured to abut with a bottom surface of said compartment when the capsule is inserted into said compartment, wherein said easy-opening area is arranged on said third portion.

3. The packaging capsule according to claim 2, wherein said abutment surface extends, at least partially, on a first plane.

4. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein the grasping elements and guiding elements are defined in respective parts of said reinforced portions which extend along respective directions which are substantially parallel to each other.

5. The packaging capsule according to claim 4, wherein said abutment surface extends, at least partially, on a first plane, and wherein said directions are substantially perpendicular to said first plane.

6. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein said flange comprises an upper rib defining a closed configuration around said internal space and providing a surface for the hermetical sealing of said film to said flange.

7. The packaging capsule according to claim 6, wherein said film is vacuum sealed with said upper rib.

8. The packaging capsule according claim 1, wherein said bottom surface and said side wall are made from a soft plastic material.

9. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein said side wall has curved surfaces connected to said at least one planar portion and said flange.

10. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein said bottom surface comprises at least one reinforcement rib.

11. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein said internal space is defined by at least two distinct areas configured to accommodate portions of food of different type, each of said two distinct areas having a bottom surface with a planar portion, said two distinct areas being connected to each other by at least one connecting wall.

12. The packaging capsule according to claim 11, wherein said at least one connecting wall extends on a second plane which is substantially parallel to said planar portions.

13. The packaging capsule according to claim 11, wherein said film is removably associated with said at least one connecting wall.

14. The packaging capsule according to claim 1, wherein said second portion comprises a seat for housing a recognition element configured to recognize type and/or quantity of the at least one portion of food accommodated in said internal space, the capsule further comprising a label indicating the type of said at least one portion of food, said label being attached to said second portion.

15. The packaging capsule according to claim 14, wherein said label has a color which identifies a specific class of quality and/or cost to which said at least one portion of food belongs.
Description



[0001] The present invention relates to a packaging capsule for at least one portion of food.

[0002] In the following description reference is made to the preferred but not-limiting example of a packaging capsule for at least one portion of food to be regenerated in a regeneration household machine, for instance the regeneration household machine disclosed in WO 2014/056814 in the name of the same Applicant. In this specific case, the portion of food which is packaged in the packaging capsule of the invention is a cooked and subsequently cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures portion of food. However, in different embodiments of the invention the packaging capsule can accommodate raw portion of food to be cooked or cooked portion of food to be re-heated and it can be used in conventional gas or electric or microwave oven.

[0003] WO 2014/056814 discloses a regeneration household machine comprising a plurality of compartments adapted to receive each a respective packaged cooked and subsequently cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures portion of food to be regenerated. The machine further comprises recognition means for recognizing the recipe of the food of the packaged cooked and subsequently cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures portion of food inserted into each compartment and a control unit which automatically sets the machine to operate at each compartment with a predetermined heating cycle depending on the recipe of the packaged cooked and subsequently cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures portion of food inserted therein. Each cooked and subsequently cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures portion of food to be regenerated is preferably packaged under-vacuum in a respective bag, such as a vacuum sealed plastic bag.

[0004] The Applicant has primarily focused his attention on the packaging of the portions of food which are to be regenerated into the compartments of the regeneration household machine disclosed in WO 2014/056814.

[0005] The Applicant has found that, in order to achieve an effective, safe and easy handling of the packaging when it is out of the compartment of the household machine and during insertion/removal into/from the compartment, and in order to achieve in operation an optimal heat transfer to the packaged portion of food, it is appropriate to provide the packaging with a proper shape.

[0006] The technical problem at the basis of the present invention is thus that of providing a packaging capsule for portions of food which can be safely, effectively and easily handled by the user, this packaging capsule being also suitable to be effectively and easily inserted into a compartment of a household machine, as for example the regeneration household machine described in WO 2014/056814, so as allow an optimal heat transfer to the portion of food inside the capsule.

[0007] The present invention relates to a packaging capsule having the features recited in claim 1.

[0008] Preferred features of the packaging capsule of the invention are recited in the other claims.

[0009] In particular, the present invention relates to a packaging capsule for at least one portion of food, the capsule comprising an internal space configured to accommodate said at least one portion of food, said internal space being delimited by: [0010] a bottom surface having at least one planar portion; [0011] a side wall extending upwardly from said bottom surface and comprising, at a free end portion thereof, a flange extending outwardly with respect to said internal space on a plane substantially parallel to said at least one planar portion; and [0012] a film removably associated with said flange; [0013] said flange having an easy-opening area configured for allowing grasping and initial detachment of said film from said flange; [0014] wherein: [0015] two opposite first portions of said flange comprise respective reinforced portions defining, in at least a part thereof, both grasping elements for handling the capsule and supporting the rigidity of the capsule when it is out of a compartment of a household machine and guiding elements for guiding the capsule during insertion/extraction of the capsule into/from said compartment; [0016] a second portion of said flange, joining said two opposite first portions, comprises a grasping portion for allowing inserting/removing the capsule into/from said compartment.

[0017] Throughout the following description and the annexed claims, the terms "inside", "outside", "inner", "outer", "internal", "external", "inwards" or "inwardly", "outwards" or "outwardly", etc. are used making reference to the internal portion of the capsule wherein the portion of food is accommodated. The terms "bottom", "top", "lower", "upper", "down", "up", "downwards" or "downwardly", "upwards" or "upwardly", etc. are used making reference to the storing position of the capsule before being inserted into the household machine, i.e. the position wherein a planar portion of the bottom surface of the capsule lays in a horizontal plane.

[0018] Advantageously, the packaging capsule of the invention can be safely, effectively and easily handled by the user. Indeed, a safe and easy handling of the capsule when it is out of the compartment of the household machine is allowed by grasping the packaging capsule at the reinforced portions provided on the two opposite first portions of the flange. These reinforced portions allows stability of the shape of the capsule when grasped by the user. Since the reinforced portions remains out of the heated part of the compartment when the capsule is inserted into the compartment, they are not subjected to a substantial heating in operation so that, at the end of the heating cycle, the user does not burn his hand when handling the capsule after removal thereof from the compartment.

[0019] The abovementioned reinforced portions also suitably guide the capsule during insertion/extraction of the capsule into/from the compartment of the household machine, thus allowing the capsule to be positioned inside the compartment at a right distance from the side walls of the compartment in order to obtain an optimal heat transfer to the portion of food inside the capsule.

[0020] In addition thereto, an easy insertion/removal of the capsule into/from the compartment of the household machine is allowed by the provision of the grasping portion on a second portion of the flange joining the aforementioned two opposite first portions.

[0021] The packaging capsule of the invention can have at least one of the following preferred features. In particular, these features can be provided individually from each other or in combination with each other, depending on the specific and contingent requirements to be satisfied.

[0022] Preferably, said flange comprises a third portion joining said two opposite first portions and opposite to said second portion.

[0023] More preferably, said third portion has an abutment surface configured to abut with a bottom surface of the compartment when the capsule is inserted into said compartment.

[0024] Advantageously, the provision of the abovementioned abutment surface allows a stable and effective positioning of the capsule inside the compartment. This contributes to obtain the optimal heat transfer to the portion of food inside the capsule.

[0025] In preferred embodiments of the invention, said easy-opening area is arranged on said third portion.

[0026] Preferably, a portion of said film projects out of said flange at said easy opening area. In a different embodiment, said easy opening area is defined by a portion of the flange which said film is not associated with.

[0027] Advantageously, in both the two above-mentioned cases, the detachment of the film is extremely easy. Indeed, it can be achieved by only using the user's hands, that is without any additional kitchen tool.

[0028] Preferably, said abutment surface extends, at least partially, on a first plane.

[0029] In preferred embodiments of the invention, the grasping elements and guiding elements are defined in respective parts of said reinforced portions which extend along respective directions which are substantially parallel to each other.

[0030] Even more preferably, said respective directions are substantially perpendicular to said first plane.

[0031] Preferably, said flange comprises an upper rib defining a closed configuration around said internal space and providing a surface for the hermetical sealing of said film to said flange.

[0032] Advantageously, the provision of the upper rib improves the quality of the hermetical sealing of the film to the flange.

[0033] More preferably, said film is vacuum sealed with said upper rib. This allows the shape of the portion of food inside the capsule to be maintained and to be visible to the user, which improves the look of the capsule and makes the capsule more user-friendly.

[0034] Preferably, said bottom surface and said side wall are made from a soft plastic material.

[0035] In this respect, it is indeed desired the capsule not to be too thick in order to allow an effective heat transfer to the portion of food inside the capsule. On the other side it is desired the capsule to be sufficiently thick in order to maintain its shape when handled by the user . Therefore, the selection of the plastic material is made in order to allow an optimal compromise between the two aforementioned opposite requirements.

[0036] In preferred embodiment of the invention, said side wall has curved surfaces connected to said at least one planar portion and said flange.

[0037] Advantageously, the bottom surface and the side wall can be manufactured in a single piece, for instance by injection molding of plastic material.

[0038] Preferably, said bottom surface comprises at least one reinforcement rib.

[0039] Advantageously, the reinforcement rib significantly strengthens the bottom surface and the side wall, allowing to provide a bottom surface and a side wall having reduced thickness, with consequent advantages in term of heat transfer.

[0040] In a first embodiment thereof, the capsule of the invention comprises a single area defining said internal space.

[0041] In a different embodiment of the capsule of the invention, said internal space is defined by at least two distinct areas configured to accommodate portions of food of different type.

[0042] In this case, each of said two distinct areas has a bottom surface with a planar portion.

[0043] The two distinct areas are preferably connected to each other by at least one connecting wall.

[0044] Preferably, said at least one connecting wall substantially extends on a second plane which is substantially parallel to said planar portions.

[0045] In preferred embodiment of the invention, said connecting wall substantially connects said second portion to said third portion.

[0046] Advantageously, the connecting wall contributes to strengthen the capsule along a longitudinal direction.

[0047] Preferably said film is removably associated with said at least one connecting wall.

[0048] More preferably, said at least one connecting wall comprises an upper planar surface which is substantially co-planar with said flange.

[0049] Advantageously, the two portions of food of different type accommodated in the two distinct areas are hermetically separated each other by the film associated with the connecting wall.

[0050] Preferably, said flange comprises a seat for housing a recognition element configured to recognize type and/or quantity of the at least one portion of food accommodated in said internal space.

[0051] More preferably, said seat is formed on said second portion of the flange.

[0052] In preferred embodiments of the invention, the capsule further comprises a label indicating the type of said at least one portion of food.

[0053] Preferably, said label is attached to said second portion.

[0054] More preferably, said label has a color which identifies a specific class of quality and/or cost to which said at least one portion of food belongs, so as to allow a quick identification for the user. Conveniently, for instance three classes are provided, i.e. a first class with every-day meals, a second class with more sophisticated meals and a third class with exclusive meals.

[0055] Further characteristics and advantages of the present invention shall become clearer from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments thereof, made with reference to the attached drawings and given as an indication and not for limiting purposes. In such drawings:

[0056] FIG. 1 is a schematic plant view of a first embodiment of a packaging capsule according to the invention;

[0057] FIG. 1a is a schematic perspective view of the packaging capsule of FIG. 1;

[0058] FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line A-A in FIG. 1;

[0059] FIG. 3 is a further sectional view taken along the line B-B in FIG. 1;

[0060] FIG. 4 is a schematic plant view of a second embodiment of a packaging capsule according to the invention;

[0061] FIG. 5 is a schematic sectional view taken along the line A-A in FIG. 4;

[0062] FIG. 6 is a further schematic sectional view taken along the line B-B in FIG. 4;

[0063] FIG. 7 is a schematic plant view of a third embodiment of a packaging capsule according to the invention;

[0064] FIG. 8 is a schematic sectional view taken along the line A-A in FIG. 7;

[0065] FIG. 9 is a further schematic sectional view taken along the line B-B in FIG. 7;

[0066] FIG. 10 is a schematic perspective exploded view of a portion of the packaging capsule of FIG. 1;

[0067] FIG. 11 is a schematic perspective view from above of a household machine configured to receive the packaging capsules of the invention;

[0068] FIG. 12 is a schematic perspective view of a portion of the household machine of FIG. 11, with a packaging capsule according to the invention inserted therein.

[0069] A first embodiment of a packaging capsule in accordance with the invention is schematically shown in FIGS. 1-3 and 1a. Such a capsule is globally indicated with reference numeral 10 and comprises an internal space 12 wherein a portion of food is accommodated.

[0070] For instance, the aforementioned portion of food can be a cooked and subsequently cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures portion of food (for example culinary bases for a meal, which have been previously sous-vide cooked or sous-vide pasteurized and then stored cooled to chilled, ambient or frozen temperatures), raw portion of food to be cooked, or cooked portion of food to be re-heated.

[0071] The capsule 10 is intended to be inserted into a compartment of a household machine for heating and/or cooking the portion of food.

[0072] An example of a household machine 100 comprising compartments 110 for receiving the capsules 10 is shown in FIGS. 11 and 12.

[0073] The household machine 100 is preferably intended for a domestic use. However it can be also used in restaurant or more generally in any food service environment.

[0074] The household machine 100 is preferably configured to heat the portion of food provided inside the capsule 10 according to a specific respective recipe, that is according to a heating cycle which depends on type and/or quantity of the portion of food packaged in the capsules 10, as discussed in WO 2014/056814.

[0075] The internal space 12 is delimited by a bottom surface 14 and a side wall 16.

[0076] The bottom surface 14 has at least one planar portion 14a (a single planar portion 14a in the not-limiting example of FIGS. 1-3, 1a), so that the capsule 10 can be stably placed on an horizontal surface when it is in a resting position out of the compartment 110 of the household machine 100.

[0077] The side wall 16 extends upwardly from the bottom surface 14 and comprises, at a free end portion 16a thereof, a flange 18.

[0078] In the not-limiting example of FIGS. 1-3 and 1a, the side wall 16 is defined by curved surfaces 16b joining the flange 18 to the bottom surface 14, so that the bottom surface and the side wall 16 substantially define a shell-like shape.

[0079] The flange 18 extends outwardly with respect to the internal space 12 on a plane substantially parallel to the planar portion 14a of the bottom surface 14.

[0080] The internal space 12 is further delimited by a film 20 removably associated with the flange 18. The film 20 is preferably transparent (in order to allow seeing the portion of food contained in the capsule 10) and provides an oxygen and moisture barrier, as well it prevents transfer of fluids, aromas and flavors.

[0081] The portion of food is placed in the internal space 12 and then the capsule 10 is closed by associating the film 20 with the flange 18. The film 20 can be welded at the flange 18 and it can be subsequently subject to shrinking.

[0082] The material of the film is preferably a PE based plastic material.

[0083] Preferably, the portion of food is packaged under-vacuum in the capsule 10.

[0084] The flange 18 has an easy-opening area 22 which allows grasping and initial detachment of the film 20 from the flange 18.

[0085] Two opposite first portions 18a of the flange 18 comprise respective reinforced portions 22a.

[0086] The reinforced portions 22a define grasping elements for handling the capsule 10 and supporting the rigidity of the capsule 10 when it is out of a compartment 110 of the household machine 100.

[0087] The reinforced portions 22a further define guiding elements for guiding the capsule 10 during insertion/extraction of the capsule 10 into/from the compartment 110.

[0088] A second portion 18b of the flange 18, joining the two opposite first portions 18a, comprises a grasping portion 22b for allowing inserting/removing the capsule 10 into/from the compartment 110. The second portion 18b is reinforced as well.

[0089] The second portion 18b is joined to the first portions 18a through respective curved sections 18ab.

[0090] The second portion 18b has a longitudinal extension, along a longitudinal symmetry axis L of the capsule 10, that is greater than the longitudinal extension of the first portion 18a.

[0091] The second portion 18b comprises a seat 24 which houses an element 25 configured to recognize type and/or quantity of the portion of food accommodated in the internal space 12, as better shown in FIG. 10.

[0092] In the not-limiting example of FIGS. 1-3, 1a and 10, the seat 24 is formed on a middle area of the second portion 18b.

[0093] The element 25 can be a bar code, an optical character, a magnetic strip or a Radio Frequency Identification tag (so-called RFID).

[0094] The flange 18 comprises a third portion 18c joining the two opposite first portions 18a and opposite to the second portion 18b. The third portion 18c is reinforced as well.

[0095] The third portion 18c is joined to the first portions 18a through respective curved sections 18ac.

[0096] The third portion 18b has a longitudinal extension, along a direction parallel to the longitudinal symmetry axis L of the capsule 10, that is substantially identical to the transversal extension of the first portion 18a along a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal symmetry axis L of the capsule 10.

[0097] In practice, the portions 18a, 18b and 18c define a reinforced ring around the internal space 12 of the capsule 10 which allows handling of the capsule 10 without altering the shape of the capsule 10. The ring is preferably obtained by folding on themselves the portions 18a, 18b, 18c of the flange 18.

[0098] The third portion 18c has an abutment surface 22c which abuts with a bottom surface 110a of the compartment 110 (FIG. 12) when the capsule 10 is inserted into the compartment 110.

[0099] In the not-limiting example of FIGS. 1-3 and 1a, the easy-opening area 22 is arranged on the third portion 18c. More precisely, the easy-opening area 22 is arranged on a side of the third portion 18c, near one of the curved sections 18ac.

[0100] In this example, a portion 20a of the film 20 projects out of the flange 18 at the easy opening area 22.

[0101] In a different embodiment (not shown in the figures), the easy opening area is defined by a portion of the flange which the film is not associated with.

[0102] The abutment surface 22c extends, at least partially, on a plane P1.

[0103] The guiding elements are defined in respective parts of the reinforced portions 22a which extend along respective directions D1, D2. Preferably, the directions D1 and D2 are substantially parallel to each other and perpendicular to the plane P1.

[0104] In different embodiments not shown, the directions D1, D2 can converge, preferably in a symmetrical manner, towards the plane P1 of the abutment surface 22c.

[0105] As shown in FIG. 2, the reinforced portions 22a preferably have bevel edges 22a' with a small slant angle with respect to the direction perpendicular to the planar portion 14a of the bottom surface 14.

[0106] The flange 18 comprises an upper rib 19 defining a closed configuration around the internal space 12 and providing a surface for the hermetical sealing of the film 20 to the flange 18.

[0107] The film 20 is preferably vacuum sealed with the upper rib 19.

[0108] The bottom surface 14, the side wall 16 and the flange 18 are made from a soft plastic material.

[0109] Throughout the following description and in the annexed claims, the expression "soft plastic material" is used to indicate any plastic material which allow heat transfer.

[0110] The soft plastic material is preferably a PE based plastic material.

[0111] Preferably, the bottom surface 14 and the side wall 16 are manufactured in a single piece.

[0112] The bottom surface 14 comprises one or more reinforcement ribs 17.

[0113] The reinforcement ribs 17 can also extend in the side wall 16, as shown in FIG. 2. Alternatively, further distinct reinforcement rib(s) can be provided in the side wall 16.

[0114] FIG. 10 shows that the capsule 10 comprises a label 26 indicating the type of the portion of food accommodated in the internal space 12.

[0115] In the not-limiting example of FIG. 10, the label 26 is attached to the second portion 18b of the flange 18. The label 26 covers the element 25 and the seat 24 thereof.

[0116] Preferably, the label 26 has a color which identifies a specific class of quality and/or cost to which the portion of food belongs, so as to allow a quick identification for the user.

[0117] Alternatively or contextually, identification of the specific class of quality and/or cost to which the portion of food belongs can occur by providing the label with a specific shape.

[0118] FIGS. 4 to 6 show a second embodiment of a packaging capsule 10 in accordance with the present invention.

[0119] In FIGS. 4 to 6, structural elements that are identical or equivalent in functional terms to those of the capsule 10 described above with reference to FIGS. 1-3 and 1a will be given the same reference numerals and they will not be described any further.

[0120] In particular, the main difference of the capsule 10 of FIGS. 4-6 with respect to the capsule 10 of FIGS. 1-3 and 1a is that the internal space 12 of FIGS. 4-6 is defined by two distinct areas 12' and 12'' configured to accommodate portions of food of different type, whereas the internal space 12 of FIGS. 1-3 and 1a is defined by a single area.

[0121] The two distinct areas 12', 12'' are connected to each other by a connecting wall 13.

[0122] In different embodiments not shown, the internal space 12 is defined by more than two distinct areas which can be connected one to the other by a respective connecting wall.

[0123] The bottom surface 14 of the capsule 10 has a planar portion 14a' at the area 12' and a planar portion 14a'' at the area 12''.

[0124] The connecting wall 13 substantially extends on a plane P2 (see FIG. 5) which is substantially parallel to the planar portions 14a', 14a''. The connecting wall 13 comprises an upper planar surface 13a which is substantially co-planar with the flange 18.

[0125] The connecting wall 13 substantially connects the second portion 18b to the third portion 18c of the flange 18.

[0126] In the not-limiting example of FIGS. 4-6, the connecting wall 13 extends substantially along the longitudinal symmetry axis L of the capsule 10.

[0127] The two planar portions 14a', 14a'' are separated by a space 13a. As shown in FIG. 5, the space 13a is located below the connecting wall 13. Preferably, the space 13a is defined by opposite planar walls 16c', 16c'' of the areas 12' and 12'', respectively. The planar walls 16c', 16c'' are substantially parallel and they extend in a substantially perpendicular manner with respect to the plane P2 of the connecting wall 13. The film 20 is removably associated with the connecting wall 13.

[0128] Alternatively, the connecting wall 13 can comprise a further upper rib (not shown) providing a surface for the hermetical sealing of the film 20 to this further upper rib. This further upper rib is co-planar to the upper rib 19 of the flange 18 and the film 20 is preferably vacuum sealed with this further upper rib.

[0129] In another not shown embodiment of the invention, the two distinct areas 12' and 12'' of FIGS. 4-6 can be defined by a separation wall which extends upwardly from the bottom surface of the internal space 12. This separation wall substitutes the connecting wall 13 and the space 13a of FIGS. 4-6, and it is substantially placed in the same position of the connecting wall 13 and space 13a.

[0130] The size of the capsule 10 of FIGS. 4 to 6 is preferably the same as that of capsule 10 of FIGS. 1-3 and 1a.

[0131] FIGS. 7 to 9 show a third embodiment of a packaging capsule 10 in accordance with the present invention.

[0132] In FIGS. 7 to 9, structural elements that are identical or equivalent in functional terms to those of the capsule 10 described above with reference to FIGS. 1-3 and 1a will be given the same reference numerals and they will not be described any further.

[0133] In particular, the third embodiment of the capsule 10 is very similar to the first embodiment, and the main difference between them is only in the shape and size. In particular, the capsule 10 of FIGS. 1-3, 1a and that of FIGS. 7-9 have the same length and different widths. The volume of the internal space 12 of FIGS. 1-3 and 1a is more than twice that of the internal space 12 of FIGS. 7-9 (for instance, 230 ml versus 100 ml).

[0134] As stated above, the household machine 100 of FIG. 11 comprises a plurality of compartments 110 (specifically, five six compartments) for the capsules 10. The compartments 110 have different volumes so as to receive both capsules 10 of FIGS. 1-6 and 1a, and capsules 10 of FIGS. 7 to 9.

[0135] Each compartment 110 is provided with respective temperature sensors and level sensors (not shown). The capsules 10 are arranged within the compartments 110 so as to define interspaces with respect to the side walls of the compartments 110 for allowing circulation of the heating fluid around the capsules 10. For instance, the heating fluid is water and/or steam and/or saturated air (i.e. air saturated by humidity) and/or air with very high humidity level (preferably, over 80% of humidity level).

[0136] The household machine 100 further comprises a control unit (not shown) for setting the operation of the machine 100 itself.

[0137] The machine 100 also comprises recognition means (not shown) intended for cooperating with element 25 in order to recognize the type and/or quantity of food packaged in the capsules 10 which are received in the compartments 110. Advantageously, through the above-mentioned recognition means, the machine 100 is automatically set to carry out the most suitable specific heating cycle for the specific type, and preferably quantity too, of food packaged in the capsules 10 which have been inserted in the compartments 110 and properly recognized.

[0138] Furthermore the recognition means can comprise means for recognizing only the capsule 10 produced by the manufacturer of the machine 100.

[0139] The compartments 110 extends along a substantially vertical direction. The capsules 10 are inserted into the compartments 110 from above.

[0140] FIG. 12 shows a capsules 10 inserted into a compartment 110. The compartment 100 comprises the bottom surface 110a and two opposite side guides 110b. The bottom surface 110a extends along a substantially horizontal direction and the side guides 110b extends along a substantially vertical direction.

[0141] For an easy handling of the capsule 10 when it is out of the compartment 110, the capsule 10 is conveniently grasped at the reinforced portion 22a on the portion 18a of the flange 18. The capsule 10 is pushed inside the compartment 110 by acting at the grasping portion 22b on the portion 18b of the flange 18.

[0142] The reinforced portions 22a provided on the two opposite first portions 18a of the flange 18 of a capsule 10 cooperates with the side guides 110b of the compartment 110.

[0143] In this way, the capsules 10 are suitably guided during insertion/extraction into/from the compartments 110 of the household machine 100.

[0144] The side guides 110b can have a "C"-shaped cross-section, so that the reinforced portions 22a of the flange 18 are enclosed by the side guides 110b, allowing a precise positioning of the capsule 10 in the compartment 110. In this way, the capsule 10 is positioned inside the compartment 110 at a right distance from the side walls of the compartment 110 in order to obtain an optimal heat transfer to the portion of food which is inside the capsule 10.

[0145] The abutment surface 22c of the third portion 18c of the flange 18 abuts with of the bottom surface 110a of the compartment 110 when the capsule 10 is completely inserted into the compartment 110. The abutment surface 22c allows obtaining a stable and effective positioning of the capsule 10 inside the compartment 110.

[0146] After that the capsule 10 has been heated in the compartment 110, it is grasped at the grasping portion 22b of the flange 18 and it is removed from the compartment 110.

[0147] The capsule 10 just removed from the compartment 110 is generally hot. However, the grasping portion 22b and the reinforced portions 22a of the flange 18 have lower temperatures since they remain out of the heated part of the compartment 110 when the capsule 10 is inserted into the compartment 110.

[0148] Of course, a man skilled in the art can bring numerous modifications and variants to the packaging capsule for at least one portion of food described above, in order to satisfy specific and contingent requirements, all of which are however covered by the scope of protection of the present invention as defined by the following claims.

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