Nonthermal Vs. Thermal Pasteurization

Los Angeles businesses and consumers alike rely on safe, healthy food. Whether you’re part of the city’s commercial food-processing community or shop at one of our many diverse grocery chains, every Angeleno should be able to trust the food that they sell and buy.

When it comes to packaged foods in particular, businesses take different steps to ensuring the nutritional value and shelf life of their products. Some companies apply preservatives to protect the food from the time required for packaging, distribution and shelving. Meanwhile, others rely on thermal pasteurization as a way to safeguard the food from the development of harmful bacteria.

However, not everyone is convinced that thermal pasteurization is the most effective option.

An increasing number of businesses are breaking from traditional methods, and employing more modern and efficient tactics. Non thermal pasteurization, for example, has become the go-to for anyone looking to preserve the natural state of food, while also allowing it to be safely edible by the public for longer periods of time.

From Hollywood to Santa Monica, consumers in Los Angeles have high standards when it comes to their food – and that doesn’t just include restaurants. Sure, eaters want quality when visiting a steak house in Beverly Hills or one Downtown LA’s hip new restaurants, but their expectation extends to the grocery store as well.

In order to meet those expectations, packaged foods need to be pasteurized appropriately. But temperature may not be as important in this process as once thought.

The role of temperature

Heat can play a role in regulating food safety. Just as you might boil water to sanitize it, thermal pasteurization applies a similar concept to processing food. The higher the temperature, the more harmful bacteria is eliminated. For example, by heating juice up to between 160 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the product becomes theoretically benign to consumers. Meanwhile, in order to prolong their shelf life, certain milk brands employ a method known as Ultra High Pasteurization, which heats milk to 280 degrees, killing more bacteria and thereby extending its expiration date.

These methods of thermal pasteurization work – but at a price.

Thermal pasteurization’s effects on food

From the South Bay to Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles residents are foodies, whether they acknowledge it or not. Our city has a rich history of high-end cuisine and delicious street food. People know the difference between fresh and off flavors, and will purchase food accordingly. If packaged food doesn’t taste natural, consumers will make a different choice next time. Which is why the processing stage is so important.

Thermal pasteurization, while still commonly used, can negatively affect food. Heating it up to such high temperatures may help preserve it, but it also alters some fundamental characteristics, such as flavor and texture. In other words, two of the reasons people most love to eat. Fans of the Kogi food truck or the famous Four Seasons Hotel restaurant expect natural, delicious food, even when shopping at their local Vons supermarket.

Applying heat is an effective – albeit imperfect – way to protect food from damaging bacteria. Fortunately, though, Los Angeles food processing businesses have other ways to answer consumers’ needs for safe, healthy cuisine.

Non thermal pasteurization

Los Angeles has always been on the cusp of technological innovation. From the automobile revolution to the recent development of Silicon Beach in Venice, our city has embraced new and innovative ways to improve our lives. So when thermal pasteurization became widely known as a limited system, companies such as HPP Los Angeles stepped in provide an alternative.

HPP, or high-pressure pasteurization has actually been around for a very long time. However, it didn’t catch on until relatively recently when food processors actively sought different ways to preserve their food without dramatically altering its characteristics.

Using pressure rather than heat, HPP Los Angeles applies up to 87,000 psi to hermetically seal food inside its package. But that’s not to say temperature is irrelevant. HPP process systems take place at a consistent ambient or refrigerated temperature. As a result, you can avoid the heat degradation that typically occurs with thermal pasteurization.

In addition to maintaining the core integrity of the food over time, HPP allows for some other notable benefits as well.

Little to no effect on food

HPP works as a non thermal system because it has no adverse effects on food. The process maintains the molecular structure of meats, cheeses, dips and wet salads because it doesn’t interfere with flavor compounds or pigments. Thermal processes, on the other hand, can not only cause off flavors but change the look and texture of food. Whether consumers purchase prepared items from one of West Los Angeles’ excellent health food stores, or just pick up a quick packaged lunch at Trader Joe’s, people will undoubtedly notice oddly-colored and flavored food.

In some instances, pressure has been known to form protein gels and even augment the viscosity of food, all without the use of heat.

Keeps food nutritious and safe

While the extreme temperatures of heat pasteurization can irrevocably alter the taste of food, they can stunt its nutrition as well. According to recent data, the heat used in pasteurization – especially ultra-pasteurization – can negatively affect the structural bonds in protein. By breaking it down, the bonds elongate and become less effective in our bodies.

By contrast, HPP process systems don’t interfere with the nutritional value in foods. Because pressure doesn’t affect food on the molecular level, proteins, nutrients and enzymes are kept in tact.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles consumers can have peace of mind when making a selection at the supermarket. Harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli are destroyed in the process when their cell walls are ruptured.

For safe, healthy, non-thermal pasteurization, contact HPP Los Angeles.