Pulsed Electric Fields (PEF)

Nonthermal processes have gained importance in recent years due to the increasing demand for foods with a high nutritional value and fresh-like characteristics, representing an alternative to conventional thermal treatments. Pulsed electric fields (PEF) is an emerging technology that has been extensively studied for nonthermal food processing. PEF processing has been studied by a number of researchers across a wide range of liquid foods. Apple and orange juices are among the foods most often treated in PEF studies. The sensory attributes of juices are reported to be well preserved, and the shelf life is extended. Yogurt drinks, applesauce, and salad dressing have also been shown to retain a fresh-like quality with extended shelf life after processing. Other PEF-processed foods include milk, tomato juice (Min et al., 2003), carrot juice, pea soup (Vega-Mercado et al., 1996), liquid whole egg (Martin-Belloso et al., 1997), and liquid egg products.

PEF is a nonthermal method of food preservation that uses short pulses of electricity for microbial inactivation and causes minimal detrimental effect on food quality attributes. PEF technology aims to offer consumers high-quality foods. For food quality attributes, PEF technology is considered superior to traditional thermal processing methods because it avoids or greatly reduces detrimental changes in the sensory and physical properties of foods (Quass, 1997).

PEF technology has been presented as advantageous in comparison to, for instance, heat treatments, because it kills microorganisms while better maintaining the original color, flavor, texture, and nutritional value of the unprocessed food. PEF technology involves the application of pulses of high voltage to liquid or semisolid foods placed between two electrodes (Eissa 2012).

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