High Hydrostatic Pressure Processing or High Pressure Processing (HPP) is a method of processing meat products such as beef, cold-cuts, cooked meats, cured meats, marinated meats and many other Ready-To-Eat products without using added heat. It has the potential to produce high quality, fresh, nutritious, safe-to-consume meat products without using chemical preservatives or artificial additives.

High Pressure Processing Food involves subjecting meat products to pressures from 500 MPa (72,500 psi) to 600 MPa (87,000 psi) for a period of 1 to 5 minutes. The high pressure used in High Pressure Processing Equipment kills most harmful microorganisms like, Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria Monocytogenes, by damaging cell components such as cell membranes, but unlike Ultra Hight Temperature (UHT) thermal treatment, HPP does not significantly affect a product’s flavor or nutritional value.

Additionally, HPP is noted for its ability to enhance flavor, texture and tenderness and to extend product shelf life and provide natural, healthier, clean label, salt-, phosphate- and preservative-free products. HPP also makes meat products more tolerant to cold chain abuse, further assisting in the minimization of spoilage and associated returns.

HPP Meat Processing Applications:

  • Beef (e.g. steak, ground beef and beef patties).
  • Cold-cut Meats (e.g. ham turkey, chicken and bologna).
  • Cooked Meats (e.g. pork, roast chicken, chicken sausage, prosciutto and salami).
  • Dry Cured meats (e.g. smoked ham, prosciutto and salami).
  • Marinated Meats (e.g. uncooked marinated chicken or turkey).
  • Ready to Eat products (e.g. protein, carbohydrate and vegetable combinations).
  • Fresh Pet Food (e.g. organic pet food).

When using High Pressure Process technology, meat products are sealed in a flexible final package and placed into a stainless steel pressure chamber containing water and intensifiers are used to create pressure. The intensifier-supplied hydrostatic pressure is applied uniformly to all surfaces of the end-product, leaving the shape and integrity of the packaging intact. HPP is suitable for both vacuum-packed and Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) materials. Since hydrostatic pressure acts quickly and evenly, neither the size of a product’s container nor its thickness plays a role in the effectiveness of high pressure food preservation.

Some meat products may experience a slight color change, HPP helps to substantially maintain nutritional value, taste, texture, and appearance. As a result, high pressure treatment of meat products is regarded as a “natural” pressure pasteurization method, as it does not use or rely on any added chemical preservatives.

High pressure processing provides fresher taste while increasing food safety, by enhancing shelf life while retaining sensorial and nutritional qualities and improving texture and tenderness for many meat products. However, processing temperatures and
storage conditions do have a significant impact on the final quality of meat products.

In summary the many advantages of HPP include:

  • Increased shelf life (2 to 3 times longer than “traditional” preservation methods).
  • Product freshness.
  • No impact on sensory, nutritional, or functional properties.
  • Effective elimination of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Post-packaging Pasteurization eliminates any potential for cross-contamination.
  • No need for chemicals or preservatives.
  • Few barriers to approval by regulatory authorities and no special labeling requirements.
  • Greater tolerance to cold chain abuse.