High-pressure processing (HPP) technology developed by Australian researchers to extend shelf life of chilled perishable products without the use of preservatives, is the star turn of a new fruit-juice manufacturing plant hailed “the first of its kind”, which opened recently in Melbourne, Australia.
The “unique” benefits of HPP are that it kills yeast, mould and bacteria but does not affect freshness, flavour, colour, texture or nutritional value of food, says the developer Food Science Australia (FSA), a food, health and nutrition research organisation.
The technology, which is used commercially for the first time in the Melbourne plant, involves using pressures of about 6,000 times average air pressure to pasteurise the food. It could replace the use of preservatives and heat treatments which affect taste and nutritional value, according to FSA Innovative Foods Centre director Dr Kees Versteeg.
FSA worked with Donny Boy Fresh Food , maker of Preshafruit juices, on juices and other foods to be treated with HPP. Donny Boy is claimed to be the first company in the world to supply HPP fruit to the dairy industry.
Opening Donny Boy’s Au$1.4m (€771,000) processing plant in Melbourne last week, the state of Victoria’s Premier John Brumby said: “This new processing facility is the first of its kind in Australia…...”
He continued: “Victoria is the second-largest manufacturer of Australia’s fruit juice drinks, accounting for about 28 per cent of the nation’s total fruit juice. Victoria’s horticulture industry, including fruit growing, has an annual turnover of Au$1.92bn (over €1bn) and exports are worth Au$226m (nearly €125m).”
Dr Versteeg commented: “It is exciting and rewarding to now see our extensive research and work in products on the supermarket shelves and being used as an ingredient in food service and industrial applications such as fruit for yoghurt.”
Donny Boy managing director Andrew Gibb says FSA’s involvement was essential to his company’s start-up: “Our company began life at Food Science Australia’s Innovative Foods Centre. We undertook all trials and first commercial production of our Preshafruit juices and fruits at FSA.”