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COMBINED HIGH PRESSURE THERMAL TREATMENT OF FOODS : A KINETIC APPROACH TO SAFETY AND QUALITY EVALUATION

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High pressure is an emerging technology with a high potential as a new unit operation in food processing and preservation. The most likely applications will be in combination processes, especially with moderate temperature elevation. This project therefore will focus on high pressure-elevated temperature (HP/T) processes (1000-10000 bar, 30-100 C). There are a number of scientific, technological and industrial difficulties to be overcome in order to successfully apply HP/T processes on foods. From a legislative point of view, a process should be designed, implemented and carried out according to existing guidelines (HACCP, USA-FDA) to deliver safe and stable products. Optimal quality and consumer acceptance are market demands. On the processing equipment side process uniformity and repeatability are key issues. These technological/industrial difficulties require a scientific kinetic basis. Kinetic models and parameters for all safety and quality aspects are needed. The general objective of this project therefore is to develop a scientific food engineering basis for design, evaluation and optimisation of combined HP/T processes which will enable a justified industrial application of this novel preservation technology. The critical issues (i) safety (legislative), (ii) optimal quality and consumer acceptability and (iii) performant technology are the specific project focuses. The deliverables of the project are kinetic based methodologies to solve these issues.

This objective is reached through the approach and implementation of the tasks as follows . The project will start with a detailed kinetic study on different safety and quality aspects including (i) task 1 : kinetics of HP/T inactivation of food quality related enzymes; (ii) task 2 : kinetics of HP/T inactivation of food safety determining microorganisms, (iii) task 3 : kinetics of HP/T induced changes in food structure and (iv) task 4 : kinetics of HP/T induced changes in nutritional and sensorial quality aspects. In each task an increasing order of complexity in the composition of the medium (from simple model systems, complex model systems to real foods) is considered. Based on this kinetic information, concepts for quantitative process impact evaluation (task 5) will be formulated. This will then be the basis for (i) task 6 : evaluation of process impact uniformity and repeatability, (ii) task 7 shelf life studies and (iii) task 8 : process optimisation (optimal quality within the constraints of microorganisms and enzyme inactivation).

An interdisciplinary team with specialists on all subtopics form the consortium of this project. It consists of 6 universities/research institutes, 2 major food manufacturers and 2 major equipment manufacturers.

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CSC - Cost-sharing contracts
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KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN
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Kardinaal mercierlaan, 92
3001 Heverlee
Belgium

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