The European Food Safety Authority (EFAS) has published a scientific opinion on the high-pressure processing (HPP) of food, finding it to be an effective method of destroying harmful microorganisms. HPP is a non-thermal food preservation technique that kills the microorganisms that can cause diseases or spoil food. It uses intense pressure for a specific length of time, and has minimal effects on taste, texture, appearance, or nutritional values.
EFSA report that HPP can be used at different steps of the food chain, usually on pre-packed products. It can be applied to raw materials such as milk, fruit juices and smoothies, but also to products that have already been processed, such as sliced cooked meat products and ready-to-eat (RTE) meals. In the latter case, it can reduce the contamination originating from the manufacturing environment, for example during slicing and manipulation of products.
EFSA found that HPP can reduces levels of Listeria monocytogene in RTE meat products, at specific time-pressure combinations defined in the scientific opinion. In general, the longer the duration and intensity of the pressure, the more reduction is achieved. HPP also proved to be effective at decreasing the levels of other pathogens, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli.
HPP is not specifically regulated at EU level and EFSA’s advice will inform the possible decisions of risk managers in this field.
Source: EFSA, 8 March 2022