Highpressure Processing

Consumers are shifting their food purchases from heat-processed to fresh-tasting, minimally processed foods since excessive heat treatment can reduce the perceived freshness of foods. Salads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, oysters, and selected cheeses are traditionally consumed without heat treatment. However, the incidence of pathogenic microbes is increasing in minimally processed and in raw foods previously considered safe. Escherichia coli 0157:H7 has been found in fresh apple and orange juice. This has caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recommend pasteurization. High-pressure processing (HPP) is one alternative to heat to achieve the pasteurization or commercial sterility of many fresh and freshlike processed foods. An advantage of HPP is that the treatment does not break covalent bonds. As a result, HPP does not change the flavor, color, or nutrient content of the food. Heat and ionizing radiation break covalent bonds as a function of dose and thus have the potential for changing the chemistry of a treated food. An additional advantage of HPP over other food preservation methods is that the effect of HPP is instantaneous and uniform throughout the mass of food being treated. The process is completely independent of the volume, geometry, chemical composition, and physical structure of the food. The capabilities of HPP to yield a pathogen-free, minimally processed food, with an extended shelf life due to inactivation of vegetative forms of spoilage microbes (but not spores or viruses), have attracted the attention of food processors. HPP-treated foods are appearing in the marketplace in Japan, North America, and Europe.

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