High Pressure Processing Frequently Asked Questions
How does this technology benefit consumers?
High pressure processing causes minimal changes in the fresh characteristics of foods by eliminating thermal degradation. Compared to thermal processing, HPP results in foods with fresher taste, and better appearance, texture and nutrition. High pressure processing can be conducted at ambient or refrigerated temperatures, thereby eliminating thermally induced cooked off-flavors. The technology is especially beneficial for heat-sensitive products.
Will the process damage the food product?
During HPP, pressure is uniformly applied around and throughout the food product. For example, a grape placed between fingers can be easily squeezed and broken; this is because the pressure is not applied evenly from all sides simultaneously. This can be demonstrated by placing a grape inside a soda bottle filled with water. By squeezing the bottle, you pressurize the water inside as well as the grape. Yet the grape is not damaged, no matter how hard you squeeze. In the same way, foods processed by high pressure will not be damaged by the applied pressure.
What is the shelf life of an HPP processed product?
HPP can extend the shelf life by two to three fold over a non-pasteurized counterpart, and improve food safety. As commercial products are developed, shelf life can be established based on microbiological and sensory testing.
Are HPP products commercially available?
High pressure processed products are commercially available in the United States, European, and Japanese retail markets. Examples of high-pressure processed products commercially available in the United States include fruit smoothies, guacamole, ready meals with meat and vegetables, oysters, ham, chicken strips, fruit juices, and salsa. Low acid, shelf-stable products such as soups are not commercially available yet because of the limitations in killing spores with HPP. This is a topic of current research.
How are HPP processed foods stored?
HPP products currently marketed worldwide are primarily distributed refrigerated. In some cases this is necessary for safety (to prevent the growth of spores in low-acid foods). For acid foods, refrigeration is not a necessity for microbial stability, but is used to preserve flavor quality for extended periods of time.