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Optimize product antioxidant properties with high pressure.

A 100-year-old preservation technique is getting a second look amid continuing concerns about food safety and nutrition. The technology, high-pressure processing (HPP), is able to more than double the amounts of certain healthful natural antioxidants in fruit. This is beyond HPP's ability to kill harmful bacteria, viruses and mold in various products.

With HPP, you subject foods to from 40,000 to 80,000 pounds of pressure per square inch for about 15 minutes. However, the pressure from HPP does not squash a product, which can be fresh, processed, liquid or in other forms. Instead, the pressure changes the molecular structure of the microbes, and these changes kill bacteria, molds and viruses.

Little change occurs in the fresh characteristics of foods when using HPP because it eliminates thermal degradation. Compared to thermal processing, HPP creates foods with fresher taste and better appearance, texture and nutrition. HPP can be conducted at ambient or refrigerated temperatures, eliminating thermally induced cooked off-flavors.

The technology is especially beneficial for heat-sensitive products. The technique, also known as pascalization in honor of the 17th century French scientist Blaise Pascal, who is famous for research on the effects of pressure on liquids, differs from the more familiar thermal pasteurization process, which involves heating milk, beer and other foods to kill bacteria.

Mexican scientists had set out to check the effects of HPP processing on a key group of antioxidants--the carotenoids--using the pulp of avocado, papaya and mango, which was subjected to HPP for three minutes. They found that HPP increased the total concentration of carotenoids in avocado and papaya by more than half. Some individual levels of carotenoids actually increased by up to 513%. For reasons not clear, no increases occurred in the mango.

These findings also support the belief that the increases occur as a self-defense mechanism in fruit tissue. The researchers detected viable genetic material, namely RNA, after HP treatment. Researchers would like to find proof that cells in the fruit had shifted into high gear to make more antioxidants to cope with the stress from HPP.

Further information. Carmen Hernandez-Brenes, PhD, Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Ave. Eugenio Garza, Sada 2501 Sur Col. Tecnologico, CP 64849, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico; phone: +52 (81) 8358-2000; email:

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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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