Science - September 3, 2009

Half a million for food preservation

Top Institute Food and Nutrition (TOP b.v.) in Wageningen has received half a million euros from the Mibiton foundation for a machine that processes food under high pressure. Food retains its original taste and can be preserved longer in this way.

TOP seeks to market know-how from AFSG concerning high pressure processing, a process which uses high pressure to give food a longer shelf-life. An alternative to heating food, this method uses less energy and food retains its original taste. However, it is still very expensive and requires product development and modified packaging.
 
TOP received the funds earlier this week together with juice producer Juicy-Line in Ochten. Juicy-Line hopes to produce fresh fruit juices which last longer. The machine can process 250 litres of juice per hour. Besides Juicy-Line, other food manufacturers will also be approached to use the test facility.
The technique is already being used in meat preservation, but much research needs to be done before it is suitable for more complex products such as ready meals. ‘The challenge is to partly cook all the meal components before the treatment and to develop packaging which can withstand high pressure’, says Bert Tournois, Director of TOP. ‘Juicy-Line too needs another type of packaging for fruit juices produced by this process. We are working with AFSG and the SME to get high pressure preservation used in practice.’
 
Tournois, a former director of AFSG, has already assembled a team of twenty staff at TOP. ‘The company is three years old and doubles its staff  every six months.’ The award from Mibiton is an investment which the knowledge company and the juice producer will pay back in the future. 

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