Non-thermal Technology

Traditional food processing relies on heat to kill foodborne pathogens, (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) to make food safe to eat. For many foods, heating is an effective way to treat foods. However, there are many foods that pose a risk for bacterial or viral foodborne disease for which heat is either undesirable or cannot be used e.g. raw oysters and produce. There has been a consumer demand for minimally processed food, such as pre-cut greens or fruit, or oysters that also has an extended shelf-life and is safe to eat. Researchers have been studying non-thermal processing methods (methods that do not use heat) that will destroy pathogens and keep foods safe to eat, while retaining the sensory attributes and nutrient content similar to raw or fresh products. These alternative processing methods are at various stages of development, and have the potential to destroy pathogens and retain desired food quality.

  • High Pressure Processing (HPP)
  • Gases (ozone, chlorine dioxide, cold plasma)
  • Light (ultraviolet, pulsed light)
  • Chemical (chlorine, surfactants)
  • Ionizing radiation (gamma irradiation, electron beam)

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