Mild conservation makes dry foods safer
With a recently completed research project TOP bv has proved that mild conservation is a good method for decontamination of dry ingredients for groceries. Techniques like pascalisation (high pressure) have major benefits compared with the regular methods used to block pathogenic bacteria.
With compound products in the food industry to which dry ingredients like herbs, spices, nuts or seeds are added, insufficient decontamination can form a risk. These dry ingredients sometimes still contain pathogenic bacteria that, once added to the ‘wet’ product, can grow and cause food infections.
Food scientist Wouter Franken of TOP: “In the production of processed meats such as fillet a lot of herbs, spices and extracts that can contain spores are added to the sauce. Especially herbs and spices are known to contain residues of pathogens. But this can also occur in a nut or a cream pie. These risks are genuine, and can be addressed by working with cleaner ingredients.”
In the project TOP has proven that by deployment of mild conservation like high pressure, a large part of the pathogens can be killed, thus significantly reducing the risk of food infection. Alternative methods like heating or radiating have substantial disadvantages compared to mild conservation. Heating harms the quality (in taste, color, fragrance), while the consumer has a negative perception of radiation.
Mild conservation offers opportunities for suppliers to meet the ever-tightening demands and to reduce the risk for the public health.
Franken: “What the food industry currently does is mainly a lot of checking. We think it is better to ensure the safety of the ingredients beforehand, because this largely reduces the possibility of contamination. A supplier who can sell verifiable cleaner ingredients, offers an advantage to his purchasers and can distinguish himself in the market.”