With growing consumer interest in healthy eating, that tradeoff tips the scales in favor of pasteurization, particularly in North America, where a well-established cold chain can keep product temperatures below 40°F from the point of processing to home consumption. Wherein cold pasteurization, the technique that uses pressure to sterilize, is gaining popularity among both food and beverage manufacturers and consumers.
If you’ve recently purchased a major brand of cold-pressed juice, chances are it’s been cold-pasteurized. What do you know about this process? Let’s learn about the cold pasteurization process, why it’s important, and how it’s benefited the food and beverage industry.
What is Cold Pasteurization?
Cold pasteurization, also known as HPP (High-Pressure Processing), is all-natural, non-thermal food safety and preservation method that destroys and inactivates harmful food-borne bacteria and spoilage organisms using only filtered water at extreme pressure (up to 87,000psi). Food and beverage items are put into HPP baskets in their final sealed packing, carried into the HPP vessel, and subjected to pressure for a set amount of time, based on the HPP product recipe.
Cold pasteurization processing for food products
As the name implies, the cold pasteurization technique does not use heat to reduce the microbial load. Most bacteria and yeasts are instead kept using microporous membrane filters. The technique is analogous to any other pasteurization method. This method is mostly used for heat-sensitive products like draught beer, wine with less than 17% alcohol (especially sparkling wine), and pulp-free fruit juices.
This process preserves the goodness of the fruits and vegetables in juices, ensuring that they are both safe to drink and completely natural. During this process, bottles are subjected to pressures seven times that of the deepest known part of the ocean. Pathogens cannot survive in high-pressure environments and are rendered inactive, but all essential nutrients are kept.
The benefits of cold pasteurization
- The product keeps its original flavor, texture, and freshness.
- Ensures food safety by destroying pathogens
- Increases shelf life and quality over time
- Allows products that cannot be pasteurized using typical thermal procedures to be preserved
- Keeps the nutritious value of the food
- Artificial preservatives and chemical additives are reduced or eliminated.
How does it work?
Most processed foods today are heat-treated to kill bacteria. Heat frequently degrades the quality of a product. Cold pasteurization is an alternative method of killing bacteria that can cause spoilage or food-borne illness without sacrificing sensory quality or nutrients. The product is typically packaged in a flexible container (pouch, plastic bottle, or semi-rigid container) and loaded into a high-pressure chamber filled with a pressure-transmitting (hydraulic) fluid in a typical cold pasteurization process.
The cold pasteurization method retains the majority of bacteria and yeasts
A pump pressurizes the hydraulic fluid in the chamber, and this pressure is transmitted through the package into the food. Pressure is applied for a set period, typically 3-5 minutes. The processed product is then removed and conventionally stored/distributed.
Food keeps its shape even at extreme pressures because of the uniform manner in which pressure is transmitted (in all directions at the same time). Because no heat is required, the sensory characteristics of the food are preserved without jeopardizing microbial safety.
Is cold pasteurization safe?
There is nothing safer when it comes to food preservation! For thousands of years, people have been concerned about food conservation. Humans have devised many methods and techniques to preserve their food, whether to render bacteria and germs harmless or to preserve vitamins and taste.
Cold pasteurization helps food have a longer shelf life
While ancient techniques such as curing and smoking allowed for increased food shelf life, many unintended consequences had to be tolerated: It was impossible to be certain that the food was germ-free and fresh, and contaminations were common.
Cold pasteurization is a method that eliminates these drawbacks. While unwanted microorganisms can survive in extreme heat or cold, germs and bacteria are sensitive to pressure changes and can be eliminated by applying pressure.
The result: more delighted customers because of substantially longer shelf life and maximum product safety.
Why does it gain in popularity in beverages?
Cold pasteurization has been used for over 20 years in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Cold-pressed juices, the often-expensive refrigerated fruit and vegetable extractions that became popular about five years ago, sparked the growing popularity of cold pasteurization in the beverage category. Juice companies nowadays use cold pasteurization.
Cold pasteurization became popular with cold-pressed juices because it provides a non-thermal food safety kill step, extending a cold-pressed juice’s unopened refrigerated shelf life from a week to around 30 days. As the name implies, cold-pressed juices are produced without the use of heat. In contrast to standard centrifugal juicing procedures that generate heat, the juices are extracted using a slow pulverizer with a hydraulic press. This process is done to keep more nutrients and active chemicals in whole fruits and vegetables.
Cold pasteurization is being widely applied in the beverage industry
Heat pasteurization is not an option for extending shelf life if a manufacturer uses this more intensive juicing process. That is why cold pasteurization is appealing.
According to a survey conducted by Universal Pure, Villa Rica, as the demand for fresh, minimally processed foods and beverages grows, more retailers are stocking their shelves with products made using cold pasteurization to help ensure food safety, food quality, and eliminate food waste.
Moreover, cold pasteurization is a preferred technology for food safety, food quality, and shelf life. Consumers want healthier foods that are fresh, tasty, preservative-free, and safe, and cold pasteurization can help them get them.
According to the survey, 85% of retailers said fresh food demand affects their businesses, and 78% said they prefer companies that produce fresh product options. Demand is so high that over 60% of retailers are stocking refrigerated and fresh products, and 48% are expanding their refrigerated section. It is where cold pasteurization beverages are sold.
Cold pasteurization is becoming more familiar to producers and retailers than ever before, rising from 60% in 2016 to 77% (producers) and 74% (retailers) in 2017. 78% of retailers support cold pasteurization, with 85% saying the method of processing used by a producer influences their decision to stock a product.
How does cold pasteurization important to juice?
This is a processing step that extends juice shelf life by killing at least 99.999 percent of the microorganisms. It is known as a “5 log reduction.” Here’s how it works:
- Raw juice is produced using a juice press or another juicer and then packaged in plastic bottles. (cold pasteurization is a secondary processing step, not the actual process of making juice.)
- The plastic juice bottles are loaded into a massive chamber that fills with water and pressurizes the bottles to 85,000 PSI. To put this pressure into context, if you tied a rock to a bottle of juice and sank it into the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, you would only achieve one-fifth of the pressure generated.
Cold pasteurization kills at least 99,999% of microorganisms in juice
- The pressure remains constant for one to several minutes depending on the settings, then de-pressurizes.
- When the bottles come out the other end, they contain almost no living microbial content and have a shelf life of about 30-45 days, unlike raw juice, which normally has a shelf life of 3-5 days. The two major advantages are a safer juice product and the ability for retail stores to keep the juice on their shelves for much longer without it doesn’t go well. Aside from these advantages, it is FDA law that juice must go through cold or heat pasteurization before distributing it wholesale to resellers. This process is not required if the maker sells directly to the consumer.
- Cold pasteurization has enabled cold-pressed juice companies to distribute their juice throughout the country without sacrificing too many of the juice’s desired qualities. The taste, color, texture, and nutrient content of the juice are superior to heat-pasteurized juice. The shelf life is significantly extended (although not as long as heat pasteurization).
Cold pasteurization ensures that the juice is not harmed by heat of any kind, ensuring that it is all good, not bad. It’s no surprise that this method has branched out from cold-pressed juices and is now used on everything from probiotic shots to cold-brew coffee lattes. It is recognized as a natural and eco-friendly technology that eliminates the need for preservatives and other additives that extend shelf life. Tan Do Beverage offers a wide variety of fruit drinks and coffee with many unique flavors from Vietnam with delicate designs and nice packaging. Contact us if you want to buy.
Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.