Modern life dictates that many people no longer have the time to prepare their own meals. Busy work schedules, the demands of raising a family, and social obligations are a few of the reasons for this. In truth, this is not a new trend, but one that has been developing and increasing for decades. In fact, this is the reason that fast food chains and traditionally processed, pre-packaged foods gained in popularity in the second half of the twentieth century.
However, consumers have increasingly turned against these kinds of foods as the negative health effects of both have become harder to ignore. The conundrum has always been in the perception that consumers have to choose between convenience and health. But with the recent emergence and rapidly increasing popularity of cold processed (HPP) ready-to-eat foods, there is now a solution that fits the bill on both counts.
Healthy Food on the Go
The ready-to-eat (RTE) category contains an impressively wide range of products. Any food that has already been cooked or does not need cooking, and can therefore be eaten right out of the package, falls in the RTE category. This category encompasses both full meals and between-meal snacks. A few examples of RTE foods that are eligible for high pressure processing are:
- Pasta entrees, with or without vegetables, meat, or seafood
- Dips like hummus and guacamole
- Cooked seafood and meat
- Dairy based toppings like yogurt and sour cream
- Vegetarian entrees
These are only a few of the many, many examples of common RTE foods that can be treated with HPP to retain freshness, increase shelf life, and kill potentially dangerous food-borne pathogens, all while retaining the nutritional value, taste, and appearance of the original product.
Why Choose HPP for RTE
High pressure processing is a natural fit for ready-to-eat foods for a number of critical reasons. For one, it allows the product to be marketed as “clean label,” meaning it is free from additives that are commonly introduced to processed foods, either to artificially extend shelf life or to mask changes in color, taste, and texture resulting from processing. These additives are completely unnecessary when food has been treated with HPP, as our process naturally increases shelf life by deactivating spoilage organisms while retaining the food’s natural organoleptic properties.
Also, because foods that undergo HPP are treated in their final packaging, there is no risk of post-processing contamination. You can rest assured that your product reaches the store shelves, and eventually the consumer’s kitchen, as safe as it was the moment it left our pressure tank.
HPP allows for wider distribution of healthy, nutritionally intact RTE foods due to their naturally increased shelf life. It used to be that if you wanted to distribute certain RTE foods to a wider geographical area, you had to process them in a way that destroyed much of their nutritional value. With HPP, this is no longer necessary. Ready-to-eat meals and snack foods can reach far away consumers fresh, safe, and nutritionally intact.