Author: Ariëtte Matser
PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES OF THE FUTURE
Novel mild processing methods, like high pressure, pulsed electric field processing, cold plasma and advanced heating can improve quality, enhance shelf life and preserve the fresh characteristics of foods. Better understanding of the effects of these processes and successful applications are now available as final results of the European project NovelQ.
At the start of the NovelQ project, a series of knowledge gaps were identified for the techniques of high-pressure, high-temperature, pulsed electric field, cold plasma, and also packaging in relation to novel processing. These were subsequently addressed and major breakthroughs were achieved in the areas of food texture, food chemistry, microbiological inactivation mechanisms, bio-chemical side effects and risks.
Industry Advisory Platform
Key to the project’s success has been the Industry Advisory Platform (IAP). IAP is a panel of industry stakeholders, external to the project, which provided feedback and recommendations on the potential and possible impacts of novel processing schemes. Activities included industry-oriented workshops and meetings, newsletters and business cases featuring novel processing technologies and a decision support tool for selection of the most appropriate novel processing technology. IAP members were subsequently invited to participate in pilot scale demonstration trials to test their products by using specific novel processing technologies / applications.
Overall, NovelQ made great strides identifying the effects of edible coatings, high pressure (HP) thermal processing, cold plasma and pulsed electric field (PEF) on food quality and food safety. It improved novel processing technology, enabling a deeper understanding of the functional and structural properties of packaging materials and package-product interactions suitability related to certain polymers.
In 2006, the European NovelQ project set out to develop and demonstrate novel processing schemes and design eco-efficient production chains based on novel processing and packaging concepts. 38 universities, research organizations and industries, worked in an integrated approach on fresh-healthy convenience foods processed with novel mild technologies. The partners focused on all aspects of the food chain, including safety, quality, food-packaging interaction, equipment, implementation, and consumer perception of these technologies. The outcomes of this project are available on novelq.org.