Future Farming: WATCH - PEF-P - Food processing advances could treble product shelf life.


The process is called Pulsed Electric Field Preservation (PEF-P) and can extend the shelf life of some products by up to three times their current shelf life. This process looks set to dominate the food work in the coming years, as it helps in the eradication of food waste.

How It Works:

The Process involves the using of short electric pulses which helps achieve microbial inactivation in food production as well as preserving their fresh characteristics at the same time.

These short pulses aid in introducing differences between the inside and outsides of a microorganism's membrane. This in turn leads to the permeation of a cell's membranes, meaning microorganisms present can be then inactivated.

The main step of the process is applying the above mentioned short pulses to part of the liquid stream. The intensity of the treatment is reliant on the the shape, strength and frequency of these short electric pulses.

It works so efficiently as it completes the whole process, with having only a minimal effect on the taste, colour and nutritional value of courses. It can also be applied at somewhat low temperatures in order to pasteurize products.

Research into the product found that products with a longer shelf life can also have this process applied to them, further increasing their sell by dates. Research also found that greater control of the fat crystallisation process with low-shear extrusion over certain cold products.It found that it can even make certain products taste and smell better.

Researchers have also discovered that high pressure thermal sterilisation can be applied to longer-life products, such as ready meals, to produce higher-quality packed foods with better colour, taste, and texture. And this low-shear extrusion of cold food products also provides a greater control over fat crystallisation in spreadable products, so that they look, smell, and taste better.


Why it will make such a big difference:

It can be applied to many products across the board. The main pro behind the PEF-P is the health benefits it can have. By completing this process on products it eradicates the loss of minerals, vitamins and flavour loss previously witnessed through traditional thermal pasteurization processes. It essentially helps eradicate any health concerns, with future risks of disease procured from food banished.

Fruit Juices could even see their shelf life increased by up to 3 weeks, while the process also improves on costs for producers by up to 15%. The process can be applied to fruit products such as juices, tomato based products, wine production, cider production and even olive oil. The Process benefits behind PEP-F are independent of product categories and could also be transferred to other sectors as biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry where a reduced thermal intensity during pasteurization would be beneficial as well i.e. as a medium for vaccines and fermentation.

Essentially this new process can help eliminate a major problem in many countries, food waste. This will in turn increase food production for exporting and thus help companies expand their markets.

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