Clarification of HPP concepts

Offering natural clean label products, achieving a shelf life extension and guaranteeing food safety are some of the main advantages of HPP technology. However, wide confusion is still generated among consumers and food industry professionals when concepts related to HPP are mentioned or when it is compared with other technologies. Keep reading this post where we explain some of the issues that cause a major misunderstanding when talking about HPP.

HPP (High Pressure Processing) is a non-thermal preservation technique for food and beverages based on the application of high levels of pressure during some seconds or minutes. Other less common but equally valid names are high hydrostatic pressure and pascalization.

This technology allows to offer minimally processed food and beverages, free of additives and keeping all the organoleptic properties. These products adapt to the current demand of fresh, natural and clean label products. Likewise, high pressure applied to the product in its final package, inactivates pathogens and microorganisms, guaranteeing food safety, protecting the brand and reaching a shelf life up to 10 times longer, which allows to enter new markets.

Despite the numerous benefits of using HPP, many consumers and professionals in the food industry are not aware of them. Moreover, wide confusion is still generated among consumers and food industry professionals when concepts related to HPP are mentioned or when it is compared with other technologies. With the aim of reducing these misunderstandings, the main companies of the HPP industry grouped together in 2017 forming the Cold Pressure Council to promote standardization and consumer education. In the same line, some of the most confusing concepts regarding HPP technology are clarified below.

 Cold Pressure is the seal of quality that certifies the use of HPP in food

Cold pressing: the best allied of HPP juices

Cold pressed is the trendy attribute for natural juices, but can we say that a cold pressed juice is the same as a HPP juice? Nope! Cold pressing is a cold process to extract vegetable juices which minimizes oxidation and preserves all the nutrients intact.

During the cold pressed juice extraction, machines cut the fruit in chunks and crush them to obtain until the last drop, keeping all the fruit and vegetables nutrients. While traditional methods use normal liquidizers that cut and centrifuge the pulp at great speed producing heat and causing the loss of nutrients, this technique retains all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes of fruit and vegetables.

On the other hand, HPP technology is also a non-thermal process to extend the shelf life that is normally used to process this kind of juice, keeping all its organoleptic and nutritional properties. Traditional HPP processing of juices and beverages is applied to the product in its final package. Nowadays, the Hiperbaric Bulk equipment, a breakthrough innovation unique in the world, allows to process large volumes of liquids in bulk with a greater productivity that normal in-pack HPP models.

In short, we are talking about two non-thermal techniques, one for juice extraction (cold press) and the other one to extend the shelf life of the product (HPP). Both are completely compatible and commonly used to obtain a pure juice with all its properties.

Suja is the most juice HPP brand most know on the world

Main attributes and claims of HPP products

Raw, never-heated, unpasteurized, organic, natural, pure… are some of the claims highlighted by our clients in their HPP products. Food and beverage manufacturers enhance these characteristics to differentiate their products based on the greater quality and added value, partially achieved thanks to HPP.

HPP Juices and beverages brands are the ones that use these claims more often on their labels, since these products have been traditionally treated by high temperatures.

It should be clarified that one claim that is not allowed to be used neither in the US nor in the EU for HPP products is “fresh”.

 HPP attributes in different product labels

Sterilization and pasteurization: just the opposite of HPP

Sterilization and pasteurization are two common heat treatments used in the food industry. Both are based on the application of heat to a product during a certain amount of time to inactivate microorganisms and have a damaging impact on the properties of the products. Thus, they have nothing in common with HPP.

Sterilization is a harsh process, since it uses temperatures above 121 °C for several minutes. This process inactivates enzymes, microorganisms and even spores (highly resistant bacterial structures), which confers the product a very long shelf life. However, the high temperature used has a detrimental impact on the nutritional value and sensorial characteristics of the food. This is the typical process used in canned food.

Pasteurized foods are usually treated with mild heat (normally under 100 °C) for a few seconds. This process inactivates enzymes, pathogens and spoilage organisms increasing the safety and shelf life of the product, however it does not inactive spores. Nonetheless, since heat is used, there is some impact on the nutritional and sensorial properties of the food, still not as much as sterilization. It is a process typically used in milk and some juices.

High Pressure Homogenization (HPH): a different technology

Despite of the similar name they have, the first thing that should be clarified is that HPH technology is a completely different process from HPP technology. HPH can only be applied to liquids since the product is pressed through really tiny holes. It is considered a non-thermal technology even though it increases the temperature of the product considerably, but only during 0.2 seconds, due to friction of particles, needing a cooling system at the end of the process.

It is a continuous process that also applies high pressure, but in a lower range (300-400 MPa) and during a shorter period of time, while HPP reaches up to 600 MPa and is a batch process.

Moreover, the main application of HPH as its own name indicates is to homogenize the product by reducing particle size, nothing related with shelf life extension. It is mainly applied in the pharmaceutic sector. The only application related with shelf life extension is still being developed and implies the use of heat at the beginning of the process.

Contact us if you want to know more about the added value that HPP technology can provide to your products in terms of quality and food safety.

2 thoughts on “Clarification of HPP concepts

  1. Thanks for the article. In seafood, let’s say cooked shrimp, by using HPP would there be some kind of deterioration of the texture, flavor or color?

    • Hello! In already cooked shrimps we don’t expect any changes in terms of color, flavor or even texture. The cooking step already stabilizes the product so HPP will not change it any further. Nonetheless you are welcome to visit any of our pilot plants in Miami (USA) or Burgos (Spain) to make some tests and evaluate the effect on your own product.

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