CORDIS - EU research results

Deployment of high pressure and temperature food processing for sustainable, safe and nutritious foods with fresh-like quality

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HIPSTER (Deployment of high pressure and temperature food processing for sustainable, safe and nutritious foods with fresh-like quality)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-11-30

High pressure and temperature (HPT) processing is a candidate technology to obtain food products with high quality and extended shelf life. However, this promising technology is not currently implemented at industrial level due to several technical, legal and market barriers. The overall objective of the project is to develop and demonstrate fit for use knowledge, tools and industrial equipments in order to effectively implement this milder processing technology in the food industry. Specific objectives are:

The main conclusions of the action are:
- The sinergistic effect between pressure and temperature was demonstrated, allowing to apply less temperature and/or time to achieve the same inactivation level of a current thermal treatment
- Minimum HPT process variables (pressure/temperature and time) required for the production of safe and stable food have been defined
- Construction of a 30 l HPT equipment that overcome the critical points detected: it avoids the negative impact of the temperature in the high pressure vessel and allows to keep the high temperature inside the vessel in a fairly uniform way
- In terms of food quality, the results obtained demonstrated that the HPT treatment allows obtaining better quality food products in most cases, with better acceptance in the preference tests.
- The environmental performance of HPT technology is closely related to the type of food supply chain. There is apparently no benefit for environmental purpose in shelf-stable food products context but the environmental potential of this technology in cold supply chains, is effective.
The two RTOs, CNTA and Teagasc, focused on the inactivation of spore-forming spoilage organisms: G. stearothermophilus, B. amyloliquefaciens, C. sporogenes, B. coagulans, B. licheniformis B. cereus. Technical University of Munich (TUM) studied the behaviour of C. botulinum. A clear synergistic effect of high pressure and temperature was shown for spores. The time needed for a 5D reduction could be reduced from 3 to 20 times compared to thermal treatment alone, depending on the microorganisms. The come-up time is an important factor to be considered in spore inactivation.
The results of this part of the study have allowed the definition of combinations of pressure / Temperature / time (P/T/t) that allows to achieve the desired inactivation level for the 3 target types of products and storage conditions.

In this WP the design, development and construction of a full-scale HPT processing system, including auxiliary units was carried out. The HPT vessel included a patented system that allow to maintain the desired temperature inside the vessel avoiding to heat it. An innovative basket and an automatic manipulation stainless steel basket system were also developed.
In parallel a temperature sensor was developed that can be used during the HPT process. The sensor is made of a pressure resistant casing and a traditional wireless temperature sensor with which the temperature can be logged. A mathematical model was developed to adjust for the measured temperature delay caused by the casing.

Tests with a simulation tool were performed by TOP checking a wide variety of food ingredients exposed to 4 different simulated sterilisation methods. Almost all results show that the quality of HPT processed food is indeed better than that of their retorted counterparts although is not equally beneficial for all food applications.
Tests were performed in 10 ready to eat meals by CNTA. The results obtained demonstrated that the more intense HPT treatment tested allow to achieve stability independent of storage temperature in all the tested products. In addition, the HPT treatment allow to obtain products with better sensorial quality compared to traditional thermal process. However, not all the products show the same benefit. Finally, tests using HIPSTER HPT system were carried out that allow to validate the working principles of the developed system.
A review of the legal requirements was performed by TEAGASC for the application of HPT in Europe. Also the role of the Food Business Operator in implementing the technology was researched. In addition, TOP BV performed a Critical Control Point study. From this study, 6 Critical Control Points were identified.
Regarding the sustainability of the HPT technology, ACTALIA has assessed and compared the potential environmental performance of the HPT technology with a thermal and a freezing treatment using the LCA methodology. When compared HPT processing with thermal pasteurization/sterilization in a retort, no apparent benefit for the HPT technology was found. In frozen supply chain context, the environmental burden is mainly shared between food production and cold storage. Replacing a freezing treatment by a HPT one would allow to store and ship meals at chill temperature and consequently, to reduce significantly energy consumption related to these activities.

The main dissemination activities performed were: open access scientific publications (1), contributions to scientific events (6), workshops for food industries (2), videos (10), press release (15) and non-scientific publication (23).
These activities have allowed to bring closer the potential of this technology to the food industries, bringing opportunities for the industrial implementation. The dissemination activities of this scientific knowledge have increase the trust, of the stakeholders involved, in the HPT technology.
The exploitation activities have been:
- select the most impacting output of the project,
- propose the exploitation strategy for the results with potential for direct industrial or commercial application,
- manage the IPR policy. 2 patents have been developed within the project.
The main progress beyond the state-of-the-art of the project has been:
- Deployment of the HPT food processing technology at industrial level with the construction of an industrial-scale prototype 30 l (with future designs scalable up to 200 l/1.500 kg/h).
- Availability of a work-along catalogue with effective case-by-case evaluation of specific food categories, which will be a tool for food producers to ensure the safety of foods
- Availability of a temperature device for the monitoring of this parameter during the HPT process.
- Techno-economic study of the viability of the HPT technology
- Increased sustainability and reduced environmental impact of food processing (depending on the chain)

HIPSTER will lead to benefits for food producers as they will profit from manufacturing higher quality products with an improvement in the conditions required for storage. The value-added food products to be produced will also open new markets e.g. food service and food transport sector (plane, train, boat cruises). Thereby, it will be possible to reach new markets worldwide extending the export radius. Producers of high pressure processing equipment will profit from a new business line.
The deployment of the HPT technology is expected to support creation of jobs at technological companies.
Finally, consumers will benefit, not only from improved safety, but also from attractive, healthy and safe products in a more convenient format.