Purpose – Most of the preservation processes are based on temperature control; they are economical, safe and well established. However, for certain foods these processes modify the valuable nutritional content and organoleptic properties. In recent years, a number of emerging food preservation processes have been developed to fill a market niche in which the consumer prefers to pay more to obtain processed foods with their natural properties. The paper seeks to address this issue. Design/methodology/approach – In this study a review of the available scientific data in relation to high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) and pulsed electric fields (PEF) are presented, highlighting the quality advantages, industrial application and safety risks in their use. Findings – Nowadays, more than 100 industrial applications are marketed and several companies design process equipments. Damage to cell membranes, enzymes or DNA is the most commonly cause of microorganisms' death by these technologies. In addition, within a population of microorganisms, some bacteria are killed, others survive, and a proportion is damaged. The latter is the concern population as the damage may be repaired and the microorganism maybe viable during the product shelf life. Acquisition of new or modified characteristics such as higher treatment resistance could also occur. Another potential risk has to do with the death pattern of microorganisms showing deviations from the traditional loglinear kinetic model (shoulders, tails and sigmoidal shape). Therefore the developing of simple mathematical models, which can adequately interpret this behaviour, is necessary. Originality/value – In summary, PEF and HHP technologies need to be evaluated by industries and regulatory authorities and more affordable equipments should be marketed to expand their use at industrial level.
- Electric fields
- Food safety