Pulsed Electric Fields for Pasteurization: Defining Processing Conditions

Living reference work entry


Application of pulsed electric field (PEF) technology in food pasteurization has been extensively studied. Optimal PEF treatment conditions for maximum microbial inactivation depend on multiple factors including PEF processing conditions, production parameters, and product properties. In order for PEF technology to be successfully used in the food pasteurization, it is necessary to accumulate knowledge on the PEF processing system and the associated processing conditions affecting microbial inactivation for various foods. A typical PEF processing system for food pasteurization is composed of four major components: pulse generator, PEF treatment chamber, fluid handling system, and control and monitoring devices. There are multiple processing conditions associated with each of these components to be selected or controlled to achieve a desirable reduction in microbial populations. Numerous published articles have reported that these processing conditions and PEF treatment parameters are interdependent and can vary with the use of different PEF systems. Unfortunately, most PEF studies to date were performed in different laboratories around the world using different PEF processing systems or units under various processing conditions, which makes it difficult to compare the efficiency of these systems. In some cases critical factors were not defined or provided. If only a few factors are considered and compared with different PEF systems, the results and conclusions could be inconsistent and even contradictory. The complexity of the PEF processing system may block the movement of this technology from lab-scale to full industrial production and slow down its commercialization. Therefore, these processing conditions must be well defined, understood, studied, verified, and controlled precisely. This book chapter mainly introduces processing conditions associated with each component in a PEF food processing system and defines their role in the effectiveness of PEF treatment in terms of microbial inactivation in food applications. Challenges in defining processing conditions and possible solutions are also briefly discussed.


Pulsed electric fields Food pasteurization Processing conditions Definitions 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research ServiceEastern Regional Research CenterWyndmoorUSA

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