Recent Salmonella contamination in fresh tomatoes has resulted in a nationwide concern for consumers unfamiliar with food-safe processing technologies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised that tomatoes packaged commercially via heat processing are still safe to eat. Unfortunately heat changes the flavor and texture of fresh produce and is not viable for refrigerated salsas or pico-style dip products with tomatoes.
An alternative to heat processing, featuring the same benefits is Ultra-High Pressure Food Processing (UHP or HPP). Fresherized Foods advises that ultra-high pressure processing (essentially a cold pasteurization process via high-pressure water) eliminates most food pathogens found in raw produce—including fresh tomatoes.
Food safety experts recognize HPP globally as an effective preservation solution—as effective as cooking or heating —in elimination of food pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli.
High pressure processing eliminates Salmonella and other bacteria in about 3 minutes. Traditional processing for tomatoes takes from 10-45 minutes. The negative effects of high temperatures on fresh produce are eliminated when pressure is used, allowing HPP processed foods to retain nutrients, natural taste, texture and color. And, because the organisms causing foods to spoil have been reduced or eliminated, foods stay fresher longer.
Globally in 2006, approximately 55 companies used 91 HPP machines for food production—56 HPP machines are located in the Americas.
Initial testing using high pressure technology dates back to the late 1800’s. Americas use of HPP began in 1997 when Fresherized Foods company founder, Don Bowden, became the first to introduce HPP technology for commercial food production. Fresherized Foods currently owns the largest HPP equipment in the world.
"HPP allows food processors to substantially reduce or eliminate the use of costly chemical preservatives that alter the flavor, while creating safe, all natural, clean-label and organic products that consumers are demanding,” adds Marcia Walker, PhD Vice President Technology and Microbiology, Fresherized Foods.
Globally, HPP has been used in food processing since the 1980s in Japan.