They say you can’t have it both ways. Yet that’s exactly want consumers demand. They want clean label foods and drinks. They also want foods with culinary adventure and quality.
High Pressure Processing (HPP) is an effective pasteurization process that helps processors virtually eliminate preservatives. Meanwhile, HPP preserves flavor, texture and color, which add authenticity and appeal for consumers.
HPP is a non-thermal pasteurization process that exposes food and beverages to pressure amounting to 87,000 psi for up to three minutes. This process can deactivate the yeast, molds, enzymes and vegetative microorganisms in food and beverages. The degree of microbiological activity is affected by many physical factors including the pH, fat content, protein content, water activity and sugar content.
HPP use and product applications are growing. The technology has successfully been applied to a wide variety of meals and entrees; sauces and spreads; dairy products; beverages; prepared meat, poultry and seafood items; side dishes; and fruits and vegetables.
Want to develop innovative products with a new technology? It requires a keen interest on the part of the developer. In fact, there are many variables to consider. It requires knowledge of ingredients, packaging materials, product development, small batch processing and pilot runs. Ultimately, manufacturers are concerned about HPP’s effect on a food product’s flavor (taste, texture and aroma) and overall appeal.
Manufacturers exploring this option can use pilot facilities to develop products that can be tested for organoleptic and pathogenic attributes.
Creating an organoleptic test is usually the first step. If the product does not taste good and carry the desired culinary attributes, who would purchase it? So this is the most critical initial step. We have set up a specific proprietary process to test these properties in our product development system. First, we create a gold standard recipe, and then develop a bench top formula to run through a HPP unit. By comparing the two products, the R&D researcher can identify and manage critical variables.
To comply with USDA and FDA principles and regulations, manufacturers must address regulatory issues with a valid HACCP plan for food safety. Shelf life testing will be integral to establish the relevance in distribution and longevity of organoleptic and pathogenic properties. This is a perfect time to establish and refine quality standards. In time, products can atrophy below standards. Of course, safety is the ultimate variable. Yet remember that flavor also is critical for a product’s ongoing success.
Packaging also is important. It’s critical to make sure there is a proper seal throughout the process. Likewise, it’s key to have the right type of packaging for a specific product. It is important to realize that not all packaging is appropriate for HPP. It is recommended to check with approved packaging companies.
HPP is becoming a preferred solution for protecting food and beverage flavor, texture and integrity. Moreover, this process can provide significant shelf life extension, which results in less waste and cost, more profitability and greater customer satisfaction.