FOX (Food in a box) aims to rethink the way we process food. The project values sustainability and health while focussing on meeting consumer expectations towards local, qualitative foods. To achieve this, FOX uses mild processing technologies, such as pre-treatment before drying and mild preservation techniques like pulsed electric field (PEF). The use and advantages of PEF are explained in this article.
How does PEF technology work?
The technology can be used for different applications.
As an innovative mild food processing technology, PEF extends the shelf life and respects the food quality at the same time. Other commonly used processes using high temperature, such as heat pasteurisation, affect food quality more negatively.
The PEF mechanism is called electroporation and based on the following steps:1
- Very short electric pulses of high voltage are applied to the food.
- Small pores are formed in the cell membrane of the food by the electric pulses without damaging the cell compounds, such as vitamins.
Another application, where many advantages have been seen already is the pre-treatment for drying. PEF is creating small whole in the membrane of the biological cells causing an easier extraction of water. As a result, reduced process conditions in terms of temperature and time can be used for the drying process.2
When PEF is used for juice preservation, the electric pulses make pores in the cell of microorganisms such as Salmonella typhimurium or Escherichia coli and inactivate them. This way, fresh juice can be stored longer.<