Innovative technology that can extend the shelf life of fresh juice by up to four months forms the basis of High-Pressure Processing (HPP) systems developed by Avure, a company that was recently announced as the latest addition to the JBT family. Unique in its focus on cold rather than hot pasteurization, Avure’s HPP machines can safely pasteurize liquid foods with almost no impact on taste or flavor, according to the firm’s Ohio-based CEO, Jeff Williams.
“We achieve safe foods while completely preserving the nutritional, taste and quality aspects of the product,” he explains. “Not only do we get these benefits, we are also able to achieve an extended shelf life for fresh products. A fresh juice may only have a couple of days’ shelf life – we are able to achieve two, three or even four months without the use of any additives, chemicals or heat pasteurization.”
According to Williams, all this means that the HPP technology is closely aligned with the movement towards ‘clean label’ products – that is removing all chemicals and preservatives from foods and beverages.
The technology on which Avure’s HPP system is based was created in the 1950s in Sweden with the focus on metal forming and industrial diamonds. During the late 1980s, researchers began to investigate food and beverage applications and by the mid 1990s, Avure was able to market HPP, putting it into production in food processing plants.
The process has continued to grow and gain acceptance, not just in liquid foods, but across the protein spectrum and is now used by the world’s largest juice companies and many of the leading protein producers. “It is not a novel technology anymore,” says Williams. “It is widely accepted by the academic, scientific and regulatory communities, and is now commonly used in production lines throughout the world.”
How does it work? The first thing to understand, says Williams, is that this is not a sterilization process. The prepared foods or liquids processed in this manner are maintained in a refrigerated distribution chain, but with the stipulation that whatever the product might be, it needs to be stored in a flexible package, such as a PET bottle or a vacuum-sealed pack.
These flexible packages are then subjected to extremely high pressures – 87,000 pounds per square inch or 6,000 BAR – and depending on the product, they are held at that pressure for anywhere between one to three minutes.
This process does a number of different things, says Williams. “One primary result from a food safety standpoint is it inactivates pathogens, such as salmonella, listeria or E.coli,” he explains. “We achieve this through cold rather than hot pasteurization, typically around 4-5ºC. Due to this, it has almost no impact on the nutritional characteristics or organoleptic properties of liquid foods.”
On Avure’s integration into the JBT family, Williams describes it as an exciting development, which will be a great fit for the company. “From an Avure perspective, being coupled with the JBT infrastructure will rapidly expand our global footprint and enhance our ability to sell and service worldwide,” he says. “From the JBT side, JBT has a host of solutions up and down the production line, and this is another nice fit – whether the customer wants a heat pasteurization, aseptic or now an HPP option, all those things can be found within the JBT family.”