Advancing food safety: High-pressure processing evolves

by Bernard Shire
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Hiperbaric 525, HPP
High-pressure processing uses hydrostatic pressure in enclosed vessels to kill pathogens in a variety of products, including meat. 

KANSAS CITY — As the high-pressure processing industry continues its growth in processing more meat, poultry and other food products, the industry is taking steps to reach out to consumers and let them know how they will benefit from buying and consuming high-pressure processed foods.

Earlier this year, the industry took steps to begin forming a trade council. The group is made up of manufacturers of high-pressure processing (HPP) equipment, tollers (companies who perform HPP for meat, poultry and other food manufacturers who don’t have their own equipment), and food manufacturers who use the processing method.

At the same time, the industry is preparing to apply labels and seals on food products showing consumers that the food product they’re buying is made using that technology.

High-pressure processing – also called cold-pressure processing – is a type of “cold” processing, as opposed to thermal or heat processing, that makes food safe and last longer, both killing pathogens and extending the food’s shelf life. It kills pathogens without cooking away food taste due to heat. The process uses extremely high pressure – six times the water pressure in the deepest part of the ocean – and is done using hydrostatic pressure in enclosed vessels – in machines that are larger and much heavier than school buses. While meat and poultry is a major share of the market, HPP is also used in seafood, juices, salads and dairy products.

Lunch meat shelf life graph
 

The newly-formed Cold Pressure Council, made up of HPP equipment makers and food processors, includes Hiperbaric and Avure Technologies, the two largest HPP equipment manufacturers; American Pasteurization Co.; West Liberty Foods; Universal Pasteurization; Suja; Campbell’s; Evolution Fresh; and Good Foods Group.

“One of the high priorities for this council will be establishing best practices for HPP, which will make sure that food safety is most important, as well as extending shelf life for products, which is a major priority for this processing technology,” said Lisa Pitzer, chief marketing officer for Avure Technologies in Erlanger, Ky., one of two major HPP equipment makers.

The other major step being taken by the industry now is establishing a logo or seal called “Cold Pressure Verified” that will appear on food packaging that’s been high-pressure processed.

“The purpose of the label will be to identify foods processed through HPP and assure consumers that it has been processed this away, according to standards set by the council,” said Jaime Nicolas-Correa, USA Director for Miami, Fla.-based Hiperbaric, the other large HPP equipment manufacturer. “The label on HP-processed products will give peace of mind to consumers that the products they are buying have gone through this process, following processing rules and guidelines set by the Council. It’s a way to educate consumers and help them recognize HPP products on the shelf.”

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