Innovative processing

Innovative processing – if it's new, we're interested

By Craig Leadley - 18 November 2011

With the drive still on for 'clean label' products and products that have fresh tasting characteristics with a good shelf life, the interest in 'new technologies' continues. We have been researching new technologies for over 20 years - not just from a theoretical standpoint, but by trying out different ideas in practical trials in our process hall. Over the years we have acquired and used many different pieces of kit - assessing their performance and whether the desired quality in the final food or drink product can be reliably delivered. I'd like to talk you through four brief examples of the potential of newly developed technology and what we can do.

High Pressure Processing is probably the most advanced of the innovative technologies. But despite the fact that it is probably the most significant alternative to thermal processing for pasteurisation, it still has not been widely taken up by the industry. As well as being used to minimise the use of preservatives, it enables key flavour and nutritional properties to be maintained. It also potentially allows some natural colours (which tend to be unstable to heat) to be used in place of synthetic colours. (Look out for more on this in our December newsletter). We've looked at high pressure applications for a whole load of food applications – everything from stir-in sauces, fruit desserts and meat or seafood products.

Ultrasound has potential in processing applications. Our work so far has shown that it can potentially improve heat and mass transfer in food processes. It has also been reported to modify the viscosity of food products. Reversible effects have been reported elsewhere and work is ongoing at Campden BRI to find the conditions necessary for reversible viscosity modification. This would mean that processing could be made more efficient and final product characteristics would not be adversely affected.

A third development has been the installation of equipment to pasteurise dry ingredients, something that has been on the wish list of many companies for a considerable number of years. This is allowing us to work with clients to quantify the heat processing that their products require to achieve a desired microbiological reduction whilst optimising product quality retention. The system can potentially be used for any product that can be conveyed via vibration, that is not water soluble and that does not become too sticky if brought into contact with steam.

Pulsed light can be used for surface decontamination and pasteurisation of food and contact surfaces, including packaging, and involves flashing surfaces with intense, short duration pulses of broad spectrum white light. It could reduce or eliminate the need for chemical preservatives and disinfectants on food contact surfaces, which can have taint or environmental implications.

So, if you want to try out a new processing idea or use our pilot facilities, contact:

About Craig Leadley

From more than 30 years in the food and drink industry, the majority of which spent supporting clients and conducting research here at Campden BRI, Craig has a vast range of knowledge and experience, as well as extensive industrial and academic connectivity.

Over his career he has built our multi-partner collaborations, developed grant applications, overseen our research programme, and been involved in food preservation and manufacturing (with a particular focus on thermal processing and emerging technologies, about which he has published a number of books and journals).

Craig supports companies with accessing grants, and is currently focused on start-up and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through grant funding.

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