Benefits of non-thermal technologies
According to the WHO, one of the main keys for a healthy diet is to eat at least 400g (i.e., five portions) of fruits and vegetables per day. Despite these recommendations, many countries remain below the levels suggested. According to a survey of the European Union population in 2017, around 1 in 4 people (27%) said they ate fruit at least twice a day (euronews, 2019).
WHO warns that reduced F&V consumption is linked to poor health and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (euronews, 2019). That’s one of the reasons why the promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption has been increasingly growing in recent years.
Smoothies, fruit and vegetable juices and juice blends are becoming the most popular way of promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables for consumers, who see in this new way of eating healthy products, the best vehicle for a healthy life.
These smoothies and juices are usually preserved by thermal technologies such as for example pasteurization and sterilization. Nevertheless, consumers are now demanding more safe and minimally processed foods, something that is possible with non-thermal technologies, designed by scientific researchers. These technologies use mechanisms other than conventional heating to reduce or eliminate microorganisms that might be harmful or cause spoilage. Some of them are: Ultrasound, High Pressure Processing, Pulsed Electric Fields, Blue Light and Plasma activated water.
These technologies might not be as effective when used individually, but when treatments are combined, they are able to extend the shelf-life of the products and retain its nutritive constituents, color, and flavor attributes.
SHEALTHY project has been currently designing and testing an optimal combination of non-thermal technologies to preserve the nutritional quality and prolong the shelf-life of fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables products. This way, SHEALTHY responds to consumers’ demand for fresh, healthy, convenient, sustainable, and locally produced, and additive-free food, which is safe and nutritious. There is still much research to be done on these technologies, but there are for sure here to stay.