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An Intro to High-Pressure Processing (HPP)

What Is High-Pressure Processing (HPP)?

High pressure processing machine for food product. Metal tank in food manufacturing factory. High-pressure processing (HPP) is a food preservation technique that utilizes high pressure to keep products fresh and safe for longer. The process can be performed at ambient or refrigerated temperatures, which reduces the risk of the processed products experiencing thermal degradation or damage (e.g., cooked-off flavors). As a result, it is ideal for preserving food that is sensitive to heat.

Compared to thermal processing, HPP offers a number of advantages. For example, food processed by the HPP method generally has a fresher taste, nicer appearance, and better texture, all of which translate to a better experience for consumers.

How Does High-Pressure Processing Work?

Today, most processed foods are heat treated to prevent premature spoilage or consumer illness. However, the application of heat can diminish the quality of certain foods, which is why many food and beverage manufacturers have turned to high-pressure processing as an alternative means of preservation. The process kills bacteria that can affect the safety of food without diminishing its quality.

Typical HPP operations begin with the food being placed in a flexible container, such as a plastic bottle or pouch. The package is then loaded into a high-pressure chamber filled with a pressure transmitting fluid. Next, a pump pressurizes the fluid to a pressure of approximately 6,000 bar. The fluid transmits the pressure through the package into the food. The pressure is held for between three to five minutes before being released. Finally, the processed product is removed from the container and stored/distributed as needed.

Since this process does not utilize heat, the food product retains its sensory characteristics. Additionally, the uniformity of the pressure applied ensures it maintains its shape, even when exposed to high pressures.

An infographic explaining the high pressure processing process

Are There Any Limitations for High-Pressure Processing?

While HPP can be used to preserve a wide range of solid and liquid foods, it is not suitable for all food products. Two of the key considerations to keep in mind when evaluating whether HPP is right for your food processing needs are:

  • The food must contain water. HPP is suitable for processing a variety of products with high moisture contents, such as juices, salads, salsas, and sauces. It is not suitable for low-moisture solid or powder foods since it may cause them to cake and may not effectively destroy the microbes that are present.
  • The food must not have internal air pockets. HPP is not suitable for food with entrapped air, such as marshmallows, strawberries, or leafy vegetables. These products would be crushed under the high pressures.

Why Partner With Profol for Your High-Pressure Processing Material Needs?

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Looking for materials that can stand up to your high-pressure food processing operations? Profol has got you covered! Our Synthetic Bacon Board® is ideal for the high-pressure processing of packaged non-pork bacon products. Whereas traditional pulp-based bacon boards absorb moisture, which causes them to lose stiffness and graphics quality, our material does not. As a result, it can withstand the conditions experienced during the HPP operations needed to neutralize pathogens in non-pork bacon products, so you can extend your product’s shelf life without affecting its quality.

To learn more about our material and how it can benefit your high-pressure processing needs, contact us today.