2 Ways High Pressure Pasteurization is Utilized in the Food Industry
The food industry has struggled with one question for years, “How do you remove harmful bacteria from food without sacrificing taste and quality?” High pressure pasteurization (or processing; HPP) is becoming a popular choice amongst food manufacturers, due to the fact that it does not expose food to detrimental processing. Heat, which is a popular choice, could potentially change the flavor and nutritional content of a product. This happens when organic matter has been burnt off while neutralizing bacteria and must be supplemented, resulting in obvious changes in composition. New ways to pasteurize with high pressure are likely being developed, but at this time there are only two popular methods of production.
Pasteurization using large tanks is fairly common and simple. Prepackaged food is placed into a tank filled with water. That water is then pressurized, meaning that high pressure is equally distributed throughout the tank, neutralizing the bacteria. The food is unchanged because the pressure is equally distributed throughout the food. The advantage of the tank method is that it can pasteurize large amounts of solid food at one time. One downside is getting the food in and out of the tanks takes time and involves manual labor.
The other form of high pressure pasteurization involves using a high pressure homogenizer to pasteurize liquids or semi-solid products. The product is fed directly into the device and then pushed through a system of tubes and nozzles using the intensified pressure generated by a hydraulic pumping system. The advantage to this form of high pressure pasteurization is that it also allows the product to be emulsified or even broken down while being pasteurized. This removes a step for those products that benefit from the combination of cell rupture and organic matter size reduction. While heat could be a factor during HPP (since it is released when pressure is heightened), heat exchangers and chillers can be used to keep product temperatures low, eliminating any harmful side effects from the processing.
Overall, high pressure pasteurization is a profitable option for the food industry. It neutralizes bacteria while leaving taste behind. The option that any manufacturer chooses is going to be based on their needs. For liquid and semi-solid products, using a high pressure homogenizer is both cost effective and recommended. Product can be both processed and pasteurized simultaneously, meaning that much of the labor used during manufacturing can be applied elsewhere and workflow can be streamlined. For solid products, and those that would not benefit from homogenization or mixing, the tank option is perfect. Large amounts of food can be pasteurized at once, after it has been processed, meaning that quality and taste is retained and any harmful bacteria neutralized. No matter which method is appropriate for a product, you cannot go wrong with high pressure.
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2 Ways High Pressure is Changing the Pharmaceutical Industry
When we see the words “high pressure” we generally picture ourselves or those around us under distress. Jobs with strict deadlines and high expectations can be emotionally, physically and socially problematic for those that have them. In addition, a powerful buildup of gases is considered dangerous and could potentially lead to an explosion. Despite the negative connotations associated with them, anyone who pays close enough attention to the weather forecast knows that those words indicate sunny days to come. High pressure forces can also lead to positive results in the pharmaceutical industry by helping to alleviate two major obstacles in the development of new medications.
One difficulty the pharmaceutical industry faces is bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the amount of medication your body absorbs. When a drug is taken orally, the absorption can be much lower than other routes of administration (e.g. nasal, intravenous and epidural), which is problematic since many medications are delivered this way. Even when you take a vitamin, you do not receive the full dosage that you swallow. In drugs with poor water solubility, this bioavailability decreases because the particles are too big to dissolve into water (and water passes easily through the body). Using high pressure machinery to reduce particle size can increase bioavailability and dissolution. For the pharmaceutical industry this means producing medications that have more effective dosages.
Another problem the pharmaceutical industry faces is poor cell disruption. As you know, cells are the building blocks of life. Sometimes what is contained within a cell can be valuable, but cell walls can act as a strong defense against the breakdown of that cell. High pressure forces can create the necessary cell disruption, allowing for the usually unattainable contents to be harvested. While cell disruption can be useful to a number of industries, in pharmacology it can mean creating newer and more effective medications.
I know you’re wondering, “How does this affect me? Why should I care?” The answer is simple: high pressure modified medication can improve your quality of life. Prescription drugs that can more effectively absorb into your body mean spending less time sick and more time active. Subsequently, this leads to happier people and since happier people tend to be healthy people, the use of such medications could indirectly lead to longer periods of uninterrupted good health.
So, while high pressure may seem daunting in some contexts, for the pharmaceutical industry it means innovation and improvement. Since high pressure machinery is currently in use in research and development laboratories across the globe, it is only a matter of time before the greater effects of this technology is felt.
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