Treating fresh or ready-to-eat meat and poultry products after initial processing and before they are shipped through the distribution chain to the consumer is not a new concept. From irradiation to bacteriophages to the use of ultraviolet light, various interventions have been set up in the supply chain.
High-pressure pasteurization (HPP), an intervention in which sealed foods placed in a vessel or chamber are subjected to high levels of water pressure (hydrostatic pressure), may be a form of cold pasteurization but it’s certainly hot right now among many food and beverage processors, including meat and poultry companies.
HPP accomplishes a variety of purposes for food products like ready-to-eat (RTE) meats and other fresh protein products. The intense pressure – which can reach up to 87,000 psi – preserves and sterilizes foods by killing potentially harmful microorganisms that can lead to foodborne illness. In addition, the use of HPP allows for clean label, preservative-free product claims, given the fact that the pressure inhibits pathogens that would otherwise be controlled with the use of preservatives. HPP is approved by the US Dept. of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Those who have developed and provide HPP technologies point to the multiple benefits of such systems.
“There are three key advantages: food safety to inactivate pathogens such as Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella; added shelf life to increase distribution range and decreased costs; and the ability to introduce new products like clean label foods,” explains Lisa Pitzer, marketing director at Avure Technologies Inc., an Erlanger, Ky.-based HPP machinery provider with more than 60 years of experience in HPP science and manufacturing.