HPP Los Angeles is proud to be a part of an emerging trend: food technology.
High hydrostatic pressure processing (or HPP) plays a bigger role beyond just packaging foods; it’s a part of history. For years, scientists and innovators have tackled the issue of how to make food production and processing more efficient. Most professionals agree that traditional means of delivering food to consumers needs to be streamlined so that resources can be more effectively used. Technology presents an opportunity to expand the food industry’s reach and capabilities through the application of more sophisticated means of production and equipment.
Meanwhile, the population at large welcomes these advancements, especially in consumer-savvy Los Angeles. Sure, the city is known for its excellent shopping malls, but residents’ commercial intelligence has less to do with The Grove and Third Street Promenade than it does with product information. In particular, when it comes to issues surrounding food production, Angelenos demand transparency. They want to know how their food is packaged, prepared and delivered.
From the fine-dining restaurants of Beverly Hills to the taco trucks of Downtown LA and gourmet grocers of Brentwood, local consumers are becoming increasingly label-conscious. The pressure among food companies to reveal the ingredients in their food as well as how it’s produced has never been higher. In fact, food processing has been a hot debate over the past few elections. Certain industries are struggling to meet the demands of health-conscious consumers who want to feel safe about the food that they’re buying and eating. Ultimately, though, modern technology is understood to provide natural, healthy food for the masses while having little environmental impact. In fact, it’s becoming more the rule than the exception.
At HPP Los Angeles, we believe that high hydrostatic pressure processing is the best option among the trends in food technology, and a leader in LA’s innovative food processing industry. Whether you’re buying dips and salsas at your local Hollywood grocer or dining on oysters and shellfish at a delicious Manhattan Beach seafood establishment, our processing method is bulletproof. High pressure pasteurization is efficient, ensures food safety, and maintains the natural flavors and textures of packaged foods.
While the method may be technologically advanced, the concept of how HPP works is fairly simple. Here’s a breakdown of what our equipment does.
The key to HPP processes is pressurization. It sounds straightforward enough, but processors who advocated pressure as a processing alternative didn’t gain prominence until fairly recently. For many years, heat was used to pasteurize food (and in some cases, still is). Processors tried to kill bacteria within food by heating it from the outside. In order to kill off the bad stuff internally, high temperatures were required to penetrate the outer layers of the particular food. But the problem didn’t lie within safety. In fact, thermal pasteurization can be effective in eliminating pathogens, and some companies still use it today. However, heat changes the way food tastes and feels, which is obviously a concern for many.
HPP Los Angeles and other pressurization advocates see this as an imperfect system. Why should consumers have to sacrifice some of the most pleasurable qualities of eating, especially in a city where diners have come to expect the kind of quality set by incredible restaurants near The Staples Center and Burbank? Rather than using heat or chemicals, we subject food to a powerful amount of water pressure. In turn, bacteria is deactivated and because no heat is used, natural flavors and textures are allowed to persist. Furthermore, once the packaged food is pressurized and ready for distribution, it can remain on the shelf for longer stretches of time than heat-pasteurized or chemically enhanced foods.
For years, food processors had to use preservatives to prolong the shelf life of their food. The window of time from packaging, distribution, and arrival on the supermarket shelf was too long for most foods to take. Otherwise, they would start to spoil, which was bad for business and consumers. However, for some foods, additives either reduced or eliminated altogether nutritional value. These items more or less just became things to chew. Little sustenance was gleaned from them.
With the use of HPP, however, preservatives were no longer necessary. Pressurization doesn’t take away any of the so-called “good stuff” from food. It preserves its naturally-occurring nutrients, proteins and vitamins, and actually prolongs their existence and value. When you buy sliced deli meat, salsa or juice at the store that’s been subject to HPP processes, it has the same nutrition that it had when it was processed. Nothing gets lost.
It may sound counterintuitive, but as technology becomes more sophisticated and capable of augmenting the possibilities of food production, Los Angeles consumers are demanding more basic, natural foods from their supermarkets and restaurants. They want technology to enhance the human experience, not work against it. As anyone hiking Runyon Canyon in Hollywood or jogging along the The Strand in Hermosa Beach will tell you, flavorful, natural food is important to our bodies. Unlike the watered-down taste of food with additives, or off textures produced by thermal pasteurization, high hydrostatic pressure processing maintains the fresh, real taste of food. There’s nothing unnatural or processed about it.
While HPP is the frontrunner when it comes to food technology, there do exist other developing – albeit controversial – practices of making food production more efficient. Some companies have experimented with extruding food. That is, compressing it into a smaller, semi-solid mass, and then filtering it through an aperture to enhance its texture and shape. But this method remains largely in the testing stage. Meanwhile, GMOs seek to modify natural ingredients through scientific means, though they remain controversial in places like Los Angeles, where Santa Monica foodies and San Fernando Valley consumers alike oppose any kind of unnatural modification to their cuisine.
For anyone familiar with high-pressure pasteurization, it’s clear that pressurization remains the only proven method of technology for safe, natural food.