Historically the food industry has focused its efforts on developing innovative applications that allow more natural, fresher and safer products to be launched into the market; in short, higher-value food items.
For this reason, one of the most successful and widely-employed developments so far this century, has been High Pressure Processing (HPP). A technique that submits packaged food products to high isostatic pressures (i.e., a uniform pressure applied to the entire surface of the product) of up to 6000 bars. The pressure is transmitted by water for a few minutes in side of a steel vessel.
Unprocessed product – loading of product – filling of vessel – low pressure – water tank – high pressure – pressurisation – high pressure – unloading of product – processed product The ‘non-thermal pasteurisation effect’ of high pressure on food has been known since the late twentieth century.
It was in Japan, in the 1990s, when the first industrial applications for food were developed. Even so, it was not until 2000 that high pressure processing began to be used for almost all foodstuffs. Thereafter, it became a real and effective alternative to traditional heat treatments (pasteurisation and sterilisation).
High Pressure Processing Concept
19th Century HPP Equipment
Today, many processed foods we buy from a supermarket have been heated to kill bacteria. For example, juice, milk, and canned soups are heat processed. While these foods are safe, one problem is heat can destroy quality.
On the other hand, high pressure processing preserves quality without compromising safety. The technology has its roots in the material and process-engineering industry where it has been commercially used in sheet metal forming and isostatic pressing of advanced materials such as turbine components and ceramics.
High Pressure Processing is a food processing method wherein the food is subjected to very high pressures (up to 120,000 pounds per square inch) to kill bacteria present in the raw food. The technology can also be used to enhance desired food attributes in some foods.
High pressure processing can improve food safety by destroying the bacteria that cause food borne illness and spoilage, and parasites that cause diseases.
High pressure works like heat to kill bacteria, but the food remains fresh and rich. In a typical process, pre-packaged raw product is loaded inside a pressure chamber and subjected to very high pressures for specific time. This whole process may take 10 minutes or less.
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