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High pressure shellfish processing


Key words high pressure, shellfish, oysters, prawn, lobster, virus, bacteria, preservation
Latest version 2011/09/29
Completed by IRTA

How does it work?

Primary objective
Working principle High pressure processing (HPP) is a cold pasteurization method.

The application of HPP in shellfish induces inactivation of bacteria and virus, and some types of enzymes, thus extending its shelf-life. It is also used to separate muscle from shell.

  • Biological effects:
    • Inactivation of bacteria: HPP can damage membranes, denature enzymes and cause changes in cell morphology (including cell lengthening, contraction of the cell wall, pore formation, separation of the cell membrane from the cell wall, and compression of gas vacuoles). The HPP-resistance of bacteria is dependent on many factors including strain, growth phase, growth temperature and the composition of surrounding matrices. In general, bacterial spores are very resistant to inactivation by HPP.
    • Induced inactivation of virus: the mode of inactivation of virus by HPP has not been fully elucidated. Macromolecules are dissociated and induced dissociation of virus may be reversible or irreversible. Depending on the virus and the level of treatment, it could lead to irreversible changes in virus conformation. Resistance of poliovirus might be related to the size of the virus particle or its high thermodynamic stability.
    • Extend the shelf-life: Shelf-life is increased due to the inactivation of spoilage caused by lactic acid bacteria (responsible for the off-odours) and the inactivation of endogenous enzymes responsible for the spoilage of shellfish.
  • Physical effects:
    • Separation of muscle from shell: Pressure shrinks the muscle of shellfish and after processing it can be easily separated from shell. Thus, there is an increase of the ratio production/time and an increase of the tissue yield ratio.
Additional effects
  • Textural changes (increase shear strength in prawn).
  • Colour modification (HPP can induce melanosis). (12)
  • Sensory quality (product perception in mouth is slightly different although all fresh-like properties are kept. Because of HPP, a slight gelatinisation of shellfish flesh occurs, increasing water binding capacity what in turns results in an increase in “sea” taste.
  • HPP treatment may also increase tissue yields. The benefits of this treatment may outweigh the capital equipment cost for the oyster industry. (4)
Important process parameters pressure, time, temperature, packaging technologies
Important product parameters pH, aw, protein, lipid, salt or sugar content

What can it be used for?

Products Oysters, prawns, lobster, bivalve shellfish
Operations Structure forming, pasteurization, shucking

HPP in the shellfish industry is mainly applied to extend the shelf-life (inactivation of bacteria, virus etc.) and separate the muscle from shell. For commercial processing of oysters, HPP processing is employed for eliminating the Vibrio spp., maintaining the appearance of fresh shellfish. For lobster’s processing, shucking effect is very appreciated, as flesh is easily separated from shell.

Solutions for short comings
  • Texture modification (firmness - elasticity - shear strength - hardening - compressing and softening).
  • Modification of visual changes in shellfish tissues (enhanced melanosis - earlier browning - opaque muscle).

What can it NOT be used for?

Products Dry food products
Operations Sterilisation by HPP (still under research)
Other limitations
  • High pressure processing works in a discontinuous mode, and relatively small batches.
  • Equipments need a high investment.
Risks or hazards Up to date, no risks are described to human beings.


Maturity Application of high pressure in the field of food processing is known since end of the 19th century, but nowadays consumers demand minimally processed, additive-free shellfish with an extended shelf-life. The bivalve shellfish, predominate by oyster, has traced a wide field of study. (3)

At industrial level, new equipments with lower costs and higher production rates are being developed, meaning that new applications are being developed and are economically feasible.

Modularity /Implementation High pressure processing needs loading and unloading phases and modularity in the production line is not easy.
Consumer aspects No specific consumer studies about attitudes towards shellfish processed by HPP technology have been done.

Nevertheless, most research studies focused on consumer attitudes towards HPP technology are favorable. The main benefits linked to HPP technologies are the health-related, taste-related (products’ naturalness) and environment-related benefits(3,14,15). According to several researches HPP has been judged to be relatively similar to conventional process technologies in terms of overall consumer acceptability. (16)

Legal aspects HPP foods fall in the scope of Regulation (EC) 258/97 on novel foods and novel food ingredients, article 1, item f. Among other categories, this legislation applies to foods and food ingredients to which a production process not currently used has been applied, and evaluates possible changes in nutritional value, metabolism and level of undesirable substances (5). In January 14th 2008, EU published a proposal for the amendment of Regulation (EC) 258/97. (6)

The competent authorities of the member states agreed in 2001 that the national authorities should decide on the legal status of high pressure treated foods, as it was no longer considered to be a novel process. Case-by-case assessment by national authorities must ensure the products’ safety.

Environmental aspects There is no use of chemicals or radiation. HPP is considered an energy efficient, waste free technique.

Further Information

Institutes IRTA, DIL, Wageningen UR - FBR, TU Berlin
Companies Hiperbaric, APA Processing, Resato, Uhde-HPT, ŽĎAS
References 1. Berlin, D.L., Herson, D.S., Hicks, D.T. and Hoover, D.G. (1999). Response of pathogenic Vibrio species to high hydrostatic pressure. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 65(6): 2776-2780

2. Calik, H., Morrisey, M. T., Reno, P. W., and An, H. (2002). Effect of high-pressure processing on Vibrio parahaemolyticus strains in pure culture and Pacific oysters. Journal of Food Science, 67, 1506-1510

3. Cardello A.V. et al. (2007). Consumer perceptions of foods processed by innovative and emerging technologies: A conjoint analytic study Original Research Article Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 8, Issue 1, 73-83

4. Cruz-Romero, M., Smiddy M., Hill, C., Kerry J.P. & Kelly A.L. (2004). Effects of high pressure treatment on physicochemical characteristics of fresh oysters (crassostrea gigas). Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 5: 161-169

5. European Union (1997). European Parliament and of the Council. Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 1997 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients. OJL 043, 14/02/1997, p. 0001-6)

6. European Union (2008). 5 COM(2007)872: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods and amending Regulation (EC) No xxx/xxxx [common procedure].

7. He, H., Adams, R. M., Farkas, D. F. and Morrissey, M. T. (2002). Use of high-pressure processing for oyster shucking and shelf-life extension. Journal of Food Science, 67, 640-645

8. Kingsley, D., Calci, K., Holliman, S., Dancho B. and Flick G. (2009). High pressure inactivation of hav within oysters: Comparison of shucked oysters with whole-in-shell meats. Food and Environmental Virology 1: 137-140

9. Ledward, D. A. (1998). High-pressure processing of meat and fish. In K. Autio, Fresh novel foods by high-pressure (pp. 165-175). Espoo: VVT Biotechnology and food research. Berlin.

10. Lopez-Caballero, M. E., Pérez-Mateos, M., Montero, P. & Bonderías, A.J. (2000). Oyster preservation by high-pressure treatment. Journal of Food Protection, 63, 196-201

11. Mermelstein, N. H. (2000). Seafood processing. Food Technology, 54,66

12. Montero, P., Lopez-Caballero M.E. & Perez-Mateos, M. (2001). The Effect of Inhibitors and High Pressure Treatment to Prevent Melanosis and Microbial Growth on Chilled Prawns (Penaeus japonicus)(2001). Journal of Food Science Volume 66, Issue 8, 1201–1206

13. Murchie, L. W. et al. (2005). High pressure processing of shellfish: A review of microbiological and other quality aspects. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 6: 257-270

14. Nielsen H.B. et al. (2009). Consumer perception of the use of high-pressure processing and pulsed electric field technologies in food production, Appetite 52: 115–126

15. Olsen, N.V. et al. (2010). Consumer acceptance of high-pressure processing and pulsed-electric field: a review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 21: 464-472

16. Sorenson, D. & Henchion, M. (2011). Understanding consumers’ cognitive structures with regard to high pressure processing: A means-end chain application to the chilled ready meals category, Food Quality.

pressure, time, temperature, packaging technologies pH, aw, protein, lipid, salt or sugar content High Pressure equipment 2.2.3, 2.2.2 physical stabilizing, structure forming other Internal data base, WOK, SCOPUS Search terms: high pressure processing (HPP), high pressure (HP), high hydrostatic pressure (HHP), virus, shellfish, oysters, prawn, lobster, microbial inactivation WikiSysop :Template:Review document :Template:Review status

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Created by Hte irta on 16 February 2012, at 16:40