How HPP Works…
…and why it’s important to processors, distributors and retailers.
What is HPP?
High Pressure Pasteurization is the cutting-edge technology that kills pathogenic bacteria in ready-to-eat foods through a high-pressure process that applies up to 87,000 pounds of hydraulic pressure per square inch to ready-to-eat food products in their final packaging.
This non-thermal pasteurization process rapidly and uniformly inactivates bacteria and other key cellular structures necessary for the growth and function of bacteria that cause spoilage as well as pathogenic microorganisms.
HPP meets consumer demand for safe, fresh food without compromising the integrity of the product. Other pasteurization processes incorporate heat which is commonly noted as altering the sensory qualities of food.
How does it work?
During the HPP process, packaged ready-to-eat foods are loaded into a cylinder which is then loaded into a high-pressure chamber. This chamber is then filled with clean water. The chamber is pressurized via pumps employing isostatic pressure that is transmitted through the package into the food itself.
Because this pressure is instantaneously and uniformly applied, it is not controlled by product size and is effective throughout the entire piece of food. Therefore pathogenic microorganisms are denatured both at the surface level of the food as well as the interior.
HPP is conducted at a constant ambient temperature. This eliminates the heat degradation that is associated with thermal pasteurization processes.
How does it maintain the nutritional integrity of the food?
HPP affects food cells. Pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella, E.Coli and Listeria monocytogenes are single-cell organisms that are present in small amounts and destroyed by rupturing their cell walls. Beneficial bacteria are also present in very high levels of raw food so while some may be lost during HPP, there are still plenty remaining at the end of the process. HPP disables unwanted pathogenic microorganisms that cause food to spoil.
HPP does not affect the molecular level of food products. Since molecules such as proteins, enzymes, nutrients, vitamins and minerals are not affected there is little to no effect on nutritional value, vitamins or minerals, flavor, taste, or color.