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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PROCESSING INTERVENTION TECHNOLOGIES FOR ENHANCING THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF FLUID FOODS AND BEVERAGES Title: Pulsed electric fields

Authors
item Ravishankar, S. - NAT'L CENTER-FOOD SAFETY
item Zhang, Howard
item Kempkes, M - DIVERSIFIED TECHNOLOGIES

Submitted to: Food Science and Technology International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 30, 2009
Publication Date: February 13, 2009
Citation: Ravishankar, S., Zhang, H.Q., Kempkes, M.I. 2008. Pulsed electric fields. Food Science and Technology International. 14(5)429-432.

Interpretive Summary: The concept of pulsed electric fields (PEF) and membrane rupture theory opened new directions in research and development. Increasing the membrane permeability led to the application of PEF assisted extraction of cellular content and transfer of genetic material across cell membrane. The lethal effects of PEF to microorganisms were studied in 1990s when laboratory and pilot plant equipment were developed to evaluate the effect of PEF as a nonthermal food process to provide consumers with microbiologically-safe and fresh-like quality foods. Application of high voltage electric field at a certain level for a very short time by PEF not only inactivates pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms, but also results in the retention of flavor, aroma, nutrients, and color of foods. This paper provides current information about PEF food processing and identifies a list of research needs to further develop PEF technology for food processing and preservation.

Technical Abstract: The concept of pulsed electric fields (PEF) was first proposed in 1967 to change the behavior or microorganisms. The electric field phenomenon was identified as membrane rupture theory in the 1980s. Increasing the membrane permeability led to the application of PEF assisted extraction of cellular content and transfer of genetic material across cell membrane. The lethal effects of PEF to microorganisms were studied in 1990s when laboratory and pilot plant equipment were developed to evaluate the effect of PEF as a nonthermal food process to provide consumers with microbiologically-safe and fresh-like quality foods. Application of high voltage electric field at a certain level for a very short time by PEF not only inactivates pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms, but also results in the retention of flavor, aroma, nutrients, and color of foods. The first commercial PEF pasteurization of apple cider products took place in 2005 in the United States. This paper provides current information about PEF food processing and identifies a list of research needs to further develop PEF technology for food processing and preservation.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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