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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Ohmic Heating Development Studies

Ohmic Heating Development Studies (Dr. Sastry)

Currently, the world's food industry is driven by the need to produce high quality, healthful and fresh like products, while assuring food safety. This requires the development of superior processing technology. We are working with industry to answer the basic questions surrounding food safety while ensuring quality.

To provide food that is of superior quality while shelf-stable, it is necessary to develop advanced sterilization technology that inactivates harmful pathogens while retaining quality and healthy attributes. This is challenging, since sporeforming pathogens cannot be inactivated without heat. Technologies that provide volumetric heating represent the best hope.

We are working with industry to develop the knowledge for FDA process filing. For this purpose, we are developing mathematical models and developing microbiological protocols to verify model predictions. Our work is also showing that ohmic heating results in greater inactivation of bacterial sporeformers than conventional heating. If verified for other pathogens, this could pave the way for gentler heat treatments that would produce higher quality products.

We are currently working with five different companies around the United States in developing new technologies. This effort involves the efforts of 2-3 persons within each company. If successful, this work could lead to the first commercialization of ohmic process technology in the United States. We have recently completed microbiological trials to verify our mathematical models, and are in the process of working with a company towards a potential process filing with FDA.  We have also supplied test ohmic heaters to two companies, and conducted pilot plant trials in our facility for three companies during 2011.