Future trends in high pressure research

Most review articles have pointed out the potential of high pressure as a nonthermal alternative for food processing and preservation allowing high retentions of food quality such as colour, flavour and nutrient value. The available information in literature is qualitative and fragmentary. Systematic quantitative data are very limited. The latter information is indispensable when providing satisfactory evidence for legislative bodies to enable the authorisation of high pressure technology in the food processing/preservation industries (e.g. EU legislation regarding 'novel food'). Therefore, quantitative studies must be carried out in order to allow the assessment of the impact of high pressure processing on food quality and safety.

In comparison with conventional thermal processing, high pressure as a novel unit operation should be able to guarantee increased overall quality, i.e. to increase functional properties within the constraints of microbial and toxicologi-cal safety. The occurrence of toxic or allergenic compounds in pressure treated food products must receive more attention in the future. The present situation requires further investigations and calls for more systematic studies. Today, high pressure treatments combined with high temperatures for short times have been proposed for food sterilisation because of their effective microbial spore inacti-vation. On the other hand, some articles have reported that the stability of nutrients (e.g. vitamins, lipids, health-related food compounds) and possibly chemical compounds is limited under such extreme pressure-temperature conditions. This calls for more research on these compounds under high pressure sterilisation conditions and both mechanistic and kinetic information are required.

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