High-pressure processing for food safety and increased shelf life
May 30, 2017
by Donna Berry
Hormel Natural Choice meats have been using HPP technology for almost 10 years.
High Pressure Processing (HPP), which is now often referred to as cold pressure technology, is a method of preserving packaged food products using extremely high pressure. The process leads to the elimination of harmful bacteria while maintaining a higher yield of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and preserving a fresher taste. The technology may be used on a variety of fresh food products, including meat, poultry and seafood, to increase shelf life without preservatives. It’s also possible to reduce sodium, a natural preservative, in HPP meat products, enabling sodium reduction claims.
The HPP system involves the loading of airtight/hermetically sealed packages into carrier baskets. These baskets are inserted into the HPP vessel, which then gets sealed by plugs. At this point, potable water gets pumped into the vessel creating isostatic pressure (equal pressure on all sides) on the packages. Product is held at a high pressure for up to six minutes, with pressures and times varying by product. This pressure disrupts the microbial biochemistry of pathogens and spoilage bacteria, which helps preserve freshness and increase shelf life.
In today’s regulatory environment, the technology is gaining importance. HPP allows food processors to achieve significant benefits in terms of food safety and extended shelf life.
Meat is one of the leading industries using HPP technology. Fruits and vegetables, and the premium juices made from them are also increasingly turning to HPP. The guacamole industry was one of the first to employ HPP technology in the US.
Interestingly, food and beverage manufacturers using HPP technology are not required to label or declare use on packaging or elsewhere. However, it makes sense to communicate use to consumers so they better understand why certain products have a long shelf without the inclusion of preservatives.