New application of PEF pasteurisation will maintain taste and nutritional value

Top is developing a special treatment chamber in Wageningen in which pH-neutral protein-rich products can be pasteurised by using Pulsed Electric Field (PEF). An energy-saving pasteurisation in which the taste, colour, texture and nutritional value are preserved and denaturation does not stand a chance. A first.

PEF deactivates vegetative microorganisms and pathogens without using extreme heat. This way product properties will be preserved as much as possible. As an inline technology within continuous production, PEF is of great added value since production costs are lower. This in contrast to the more expensive, batchwise preservation technology High Pressure Processing (HPP, or Pascalisation).

Our innovation not only impacts classic dairy, but also pH-neutral protein-rich products such as (plant-based) milk-, yogurt, and egg substitutes. We noticed an increasing demand for these products in the last few years. They cannot simply be acidified or pasteurized in the classic way (15 seconds at 72°C) which causes proteins to denature (they unfold, solidify, and therefore lose parts of their functional properties). Heating at low temperatures for a long time, which is the preferred method nowadays, ultimately results in the same deactivation of microorganisms although it is both expensive and logistically undesirable.

Food safety remains of great importance which is why many high-protein ingredients are pasteurised. In the Netherlands we manufacture a lot of products that contain either eggs or egg-based ingredients such as bakery products and liquid eggs to make omelets. However this classic method of pasteurisation has a negative effect on heat-sensitive nutrients (such as enzymes), taste and functionality.

PEF perforates (electroporation) the cell membrane of microorganisms and pathogens and deactivates them by using pulses (microseconds) of high electric fields. This allows us to pasteurise without the risk of denaturation due to heating. This technology is already being used in refrigerated, perishable and acidic juices, soups and sauces.

Innovating this technology makes sense. After all, we have years of experience in development, processing, production and mild pasteurisation of protein-rich products so we will keep developing PEF.

Interested in using PEF for your pH-neutral and/or protein-rich products? Feel free to contact us!

For this project, TOP receives funding from OP OOST.