Mild conservation technologies are effective for decontamination of dry ingredients, according to a new study by food industry research organization TOP b.v.

The research shows that techniques like pascalization (high pressure pasteurization), PurePulse (pulsed electric field technology), AMAP (active modified air packaging) and PATS (pressure assisted thermal sterilization) offer major benefits compared with more traditional methods used to block pathogenic bacteria.

In the food processing industry, dry ingredients such as herbs, spices, nuts or seeds can sometimes contain pathogenic bacteria that, once added to the wet product, can grow and cause foodborne illnesses.

Food scientist Wouter Franken of TOP explained: “In the production of processed meats such as fillet a lot of herbs, spices and extracts that can contain spores are added to the sauce. Especially herbs and spices are known to contain residues of pathogens, but this can also occur in a nut or a cream pie. These risks are genuine and can be addressed by working with cleaner ingredients.”

TOP’s study confirmed that most pathogens can be eliminated through the use of mild conservation techniques.

Alternative methods such as heating or radiating have substantial disadvantages compared to mild conservation, the organization noted. Heating affects product quality in terms of taste, color or fragrance, while consumers tend to have a negative perception of radiation.

Franken concluded: “What the food industry currently does is mainly a lot of checking. We think it is better to ensure the safety of the ingredients beforehand, because this largely reduces the possibility of contamination. A supplier who can sell verifiable cleaner ingredients, offers an advantage to his purchasers and can distinguish himself in the market.”