Editor’s Note: Food and beverage formulators are looking for more options and new options to enhance product shelf life and clean up ingredient labels. Here, Prepared Foods looks at two solutions including alternative ingredients and use of high-pressure processing.  A third option involves the use of food safe, in-package oxygen absorbing desiccants. Readers considering this last solution can find suppliers by typing in “oxygen scavengers” at www.FoodMaster.com

Meanwhile, here’s how one equipment supplier, Hiperbaric, describes HPP and its benefits: 

“High Pressure Processing (HPP) is a cold pasteurization technique by which products, already sealed in its final package, are introduced into a vessel and subjected to a high level of isostatic pressure (300–600MPa/43,500-87,000psi) transmitted by water. 

Pressures above 400 MPa / 58,000 psi at cold (+ 4ºC to 10ºC) or ambient temperature inactivate the vegetative flora (bacteria, virus, yeasts, molds and parasites) present in food, extending the products shelf life importantly and guaranteeing food safety.

High Pressure Processing respects the sensorial and nutritional properties of food, because of the absence of heat treatment, and maintains its original freshness throughout the shelf-life.”

Below, Prepared Foods also talks about HPP with Dr. Errol Raghubeer, a senior vice president and food scientist with JBT / Avure Technologies, another industry equipment supplier.

Prepared Foods: How has HPP science advanced? Any noteworthy developments last year?

Errol Raghubeer: The main focus of HPP always has involved areas of food safety and shelf life extension. Now, the focus is more about offering consumers healthier foods that maintain their fresh characteristics and nutrients—without the use of chemical preservatives. By understanding the behavior of food components under pressure, the industry is able to offer foods with better organoleptic properties. 

Meanwhile, regulatory authorities are becoming more involved in HPP because it has become so much more of a mainstream process. We have submitted data to FDA’s Beverage Division for consideration of a broad approval of juice beverages that may allow for the production of these products—without the need for pathogen validation studies.

We also have submitted results of studies to the FDA (and for publication) that show that clostridium botulinum is not a hazard in raw, refrigerated coconut water. These results are corroborated by other researchers. An exciting movement within HPP involves growth of applications involving ready meals, dairy products and raw meat for both human and pet foods. 

PF: What do you tell food and beverage scientists about HPP’s benefits?

Dr. Raghubeer: HPP not only can add to shelf life but enhance a product’s nutrition, health appeal, taste and mouthfeel. HPP also can lead to cleaner labels and more opportunities to develop and improve formulations. One area that has not been given much attention is the importance of packaging—from the films used in foods, to the caps and bottles for beverages.

HPP has become a mainstream food processing method and no longer is considered a novel technology. In fact, Health Canada removed HPP as a “novel process” as of December 2016. Meanwhile, HPP news is spreading thanks to regulatory acceptance as well as seminars, trade journals and peer-review articles, industry trade shows and the growth and expansion of HPP tolling facilities. It seems that the food and beverage industry does not ask so much about what HPP actually is. Today, companies simply are looking at related issues of cost, integration into their current processes and new product development opportunities.