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High Pressure Processing

General Information


The microbial inactivation due to high pressure for food technology is reported more than 100 years ago. Advances in Metallurgic and Ceramics in the 70s in HP techniques allowed applications for food processes. First applications on Yogurt, Salad dressing, fruits jellies and sauces in 1990. Further use in Meat and Vegetable products. There is a high potential for the development of the technology due to the current market profile towards healthy/fresh food and the acceptance of the technology.

(Muredzi, 2012)


  • “Fresh taste” and quality retention (Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)
  • Independent processing regarding sample mass and geometry.
  • Reduce the demand for thermal energy in the process (increasing electricity use) and there is no generation of waste products.
  • Tailored texture potential and color conservation
  • Conservation of food due to the effect on Microorganisms.

(Muredzi, 2012)


  • Potential low temperature storage needed (Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)
  • High cost due to the production speeds and high cost of equipment. About twice the cost of the conventional thermal treatment.

(Schaschke, 2012)


Principles: Le Chatelier (equilibrium shrift toward less volume state under pressure), principle of microscopic ordering (pressure and temperature antagonism, pressure is towards order and less movement), Isotactic principle.

(Muredzi, 2012)

The covalent bonds remain unaffected in the food product but tertiary and quaternary protein structure are affected above 200 MPa (116 MPa the pressure at the bottom of the deepest sea)

(Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)

Description of techniques

  • Components of the system: High pressure vessel and its closure, pressure generation system and temperature control (Muredzi, 2012)
  • There are two main ways to pressurize, the direct and the indirect one. Direct Compression: Piston type compression. Indirect compression: High pressure intensifier to the medium (most used).
  • Pressure transmitting fluids: Water, Organic water solutions, Silicone Oil, Ethanol Solutions, inert gases, etc.
  • Rage of use 100-1000 MPa at low temperature or combined with thermal treatment.

(Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)


Figure Indirect Method for Generation of High Pressure (Muredzi 2012 p.32 )

Changes in process (Operation Unit Applications)


The technology enables a cooking process of meat products resulting with a lower fat and salt content than in conventional processes (200 MPa, 2 min.). It retains its expected functional quality attributed of objective texture, color and rheological property. Also, it is achieved with a marked reduction in cooking loss when cooked thus providing the manufacturer with greater product yield.

(Yang et al. 2015)


High pressure processing can be us as a food preservation technique.There is important effects on microorganisms. With 10-50 MPa decrease the rate of reproduction and growth and high pressure deactivation (~500 Mpa) is also possible. Effective combination with thermal treatment especially for bacterial spores. Factors affecting the process: Temperature (High temperatures increase the effect again microorganism), pH (low PH are more beneficial), Bactereocins (synergy potential), water activity (high is beneficial but also enables an easier microorganism recovery) and preservatives use (the less the better). De-activation mechanism: The technology takes advantage of the Cellular Membrane permeability (in: nutrientes, out: waste + leakages) and of the microbial Enzymes Denaturation Cycle. Examples of treatment: Bacteria (300-600 MPa, 2-50 min, 11-25 °C), Bacterial Spores (600-900 Mpa, 1-20 min, 40-100 °C), Fungi ( see Bacteria), Viruses (See bacterias), Prions ( 340-550 MPa, 3 min.)

(Muredzi, 2012; Tao et al. 2014)

Relevant Cases:

Effect of a different high pressure thermal processing compared to a traditional thermal treatment on a red flesh and peel plum purée Original Research Article

Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 26, December 2014, Pages 26-33

J. García-Parra, F. González-Cebrino, R. Cava, R. Ramírez

Effects of high hydrostatic pressure and high temperature short time on antioxidant activity, antioxidant compounds and color of mango nectars Original Research Article

Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 21, January 2014, Pages 35-43

Fengxia Liu, Yongtao Wang, Renjie Li, Xiufang Bi, Xiaojun Liao


The technology helps to improve the mass transfer’s rate, reduce extraction time and increase extraction yield. This is due to the solvent permeability in cells, the solubility of extractable compounds and inactivation of degradation of enzymes.

(Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)


Effects of high pressure extraction on the extraction yield, total phenolic content and antioxidant activity of longan fruit pericarpOriginal Research Article

Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2009, Pages 155-159

K. Nagendra Prasad, En Yang, Chun Yi, Mouming Zhao, Yueming Jiang


The technology enables a high level of quality, especially regarding phenolic levels, antioxidant and vitamin content. There is an innovative process combined with osmotic dehydration.

(Nuñez-Mancillaa et al. 2013)


Thawing process are also a source of damage for processed food. With HPP a minimization of loss of texture and color due to thawing is possible. The fundament of the process is based on the decrease of the melting point of ice, enlarging the temperature difference between the source of heat and the frozen sample (enhanced driving force). Potential change in physicochemical properties is still possible.

Two main processes: Pressure assistant (increase of temperature at constant pressure phase transition, ice to water) and pressure induced (increase of pressure to initiate the transition and further increase of temperature at constant pressure). HP assisted thawing is recommended. There is also the collateral benefit of liming effect of pressure of microbial growth.

(Muredzi, 2012; Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)

Bleaching/ conservation of Color

The technology enables color retention on Vegetables and Fruits (orange and Tomato Juices, Fruit Jams). However, there are storage issues due to incomplete enzyme inactivation

High effect on meat and meat Products (Presence of Myoglobin in Muscles avoiding oxidation). Some affecting factors are water content, low temperature and high pH protect colors. It does not work for semi cooked or cooked products.

(Muredzi, 2012; Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)


This application aims at inactivating spore-forming bacteria and bacterial endospores usually using high temperature for long time affecting the quality of the product. A combination of pressure and thermal processing seems to be more effective (60-90 °C till 100-130°C with the internal compression effect of about 500 MPa), a process more than 15 time faster. Material resistance and economic challenges make high temperature high pressure equipment out of the market.

(Tao, Sun, Hogan, Kelly, 2014)


A comparative study of high pressure sterilization and conventional thermal sterilization: Quality effects in green beans Original Research Article

Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 9, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 70-79

Cleaning / Active packaging

The technology in combination with active packaging can enable cleaning levels below the detection level, making optimization opportunities for especially critical cleaning.


Ready-to-eat products have been implicated in several outbreaks of listeriosis. Therefore, effective ways to eliminate the risk from this pathogenic microorganism can be very attractive for manufacturers. The use of active packaging followed by HPP can enhance the listericidal efficiency of the treatment while using lower pressure levels, and thus having limited effects on color and lipid oxidation.

(Stratakos et al. 2015)

Cooling, chilling and cold stabilization

The Ice Crystals formation damages mechanically cell structure in tissue, puncturing cell wall and inducing denaturalization of proteins. HPP technology Takes advantage of the non-frozen region of water below 0°C at elevated pressures, avoiding adverse freezing effects (-22°C with 207.5 MPa).

HP acceleration of freezing rates enables smaller and less harmful ice crystals.

The are 2 main methods: High Pressure assisted freezing (HPAF) and high pressure shift freezing (HPSF). HPAF goes under constant high pressure through a temperature reduction below the corresponding freezing point (this also reduce the heat of crystallization, enabling a faster process). In HPSF the sample is cooled to the corresponding freezing point temperature under high pressure without phase transition (-20 °C at 200 MPa) and then a rapid depressurization allows supercoiling. This last process enables the formation of homogeneous and instantaneous ice crystals, making a soft freezing process (potential cell damage is still a relevant issue).

(Tao, Sun, Hogan & Kelly, 2014)


The technology accelerates the Maillard reactions along the wine aging. Pressurized wines present more brownish color, higher furan content and lower free amino acid content.


HHP can be used in winemaking as an alternative process for preservation of wine, reducing the amounts of SO2. The effect of HHP on the physical–chemical characteristics on long term storage of wine is still largely unknown. It was found that treatments accelerate Maillard reactions during the white wine storage period.

(Santos et al., 2013)

Energy Savings

  • Energy saving due to the homogenization of products through the process: The use of high pressure homogenization (HPH) to reduce consistency of concentrated orange juice (COJ). Potential Savings through HP storage in contrast to frozen storage.

(Tao, Sun, Hogan & Kelly, 2014)

Change in Energy Distribution

It reduces the use of thermal energy/power increasing the demand of electricity. This will mean a lower thermal power enabling the possibility to use lower quality thermal energy. At the same time increase the electrical power needed. Over all an increase on energy consumption may be expected.


  • Muredzi, P. (2012) 'Chapter 1: High pressure processing technology', in Aleman, M. (ed.) Emerging Non-thermal Food Processing Technologies. USA: CBH books, pp. 19-57.
  • Nuñez-Mancillaa, Y., Pérez-Wona, M., Uribea, E., Vega-Gálveza, A., Di Scalac, K. (2013) 'Osmotic dehydration under high hydrostatic pressure: Effects on antioxidant activity, total phenolics compounds, vitamin C and colour of strawberry 'LWT - Food Science and Technology, 52(July), pp. 151-156.
  • Santos, M., Nunes, C., Rocha, M., Rodrigues, A., Rocha, S., Saraiva, J., Coimbra, M. (2013) 'Impact of high pressure treatments on the physicochemical properties of a sulphur dioxide-free white wine during bottle storage: Evidence for Maillard reaction acceleration', Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, 20(October), pp. 51-58.
  • Schaschke C. (2012) Advantages of High-Pressure Food Processing , Available at:http://www.foodhealthinnovation.com/media/6002/hpp_univ_strathclyde_chemical___process_engineering_-_tech_alert.pdf (Accessed: 13th March 2015).
  • Stratakos, A., Delgado-Pando, G., Linton, M., Patterson, M., Koidis, A. (2015) 'Synergism between high-pressure processing and active packaging against Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat chicken breast', Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, 27(February), pp. 41-47.
  • Tao, Y., Sun D., Hogan E., Kelly, A. (2014) 'High pressure processing', in Sun, D. (ed.)Emerging Tehcnologies for Food Processing. UK: Academic Press, pp. 3-20.
  • Yang, H., Han, M., Wang, X., Han, Y., Wu, J., Xu, X., Zhou, G. (2015) 'Effect of high pressure on cooking losses and functional properties of reduced-fat and reduced-salt pork sausage emulsions', Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, In Press, Accepted Manuscrip, Available online 18 March 2015.