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Starch gelation by high pressure processing


Key words Gelatinization, gelation, gel, high pressure, swelling, starch
Latest version 2011/07/11
Completed by IRTA

How does it work?

Primary objective Starch gelation by high pressure processing without heat treatment.
Working principle Through heat-induced starch gelatinization, different types of starch have characteristic temperature and gelatinization times. Similarly, in pressure-induced gelation, different types of starch gelatinize over different ranges of pressure, treatment time and the temperature of pressurization. In this process, hydration of starch granules occurs, leading to swelling of the granules and distortion of the crystalline regions, and changing its optical properties due to the loss of the crystallinity. Thus the crystalline regions become more accessible for water. Starch granules swell and viscosity changes.

Also other products can be used for pressure-induced gel formation apart from starches. Polysacharides (different from starches, e.g. pectin), proteins and polymers can form gel, through a cross-linked system retaining water in its structure and forming a soft solid.

Additional effects Texture modification, viscosity changes, water retention, enzyme inactivation, protein denaturation.
Important process parameters pressure, holding time at pressure, temperature
Important product parameters starch type, water/food composition

What can it be used for?

Products Most polysaccharide containing foods in a liquid or semi-liquid form in order to modify its texture properties.
Operations Structure formation by texture or viscosity modification.

High pressure processing in the food industry is mainly applied for food pasteurisation, but because its additional effects on food physical properties, other uses have been described: seafood processing (e.g. Vibrio inactivation) and starch gelation as examples.

Solutions for short comings
  • Texture modification (viscosity increase or solidification) in liquid or semi-liquid food products
  • Modification of food physical properties without need of heating and minimizing destruction of thermolabile components (vitamins- enzymes-etc.)
  • To induce new texture properties different that from heating-induced gel formation

What can it NOT be used for?

Products Dry and solid foods
Operations Sterilisation by HP (still under research)
Other limitations
  • High pressure processing works in a discontinuous mode
  • Equipments need a high investment
  • Texture or viscosity modifications cannot easily be predicted meaning that specific studies are needed for each product and process
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 the study on the effects on polysaccharides gel formation is more recent.

Specific product applications have been developed (fish, chicken, surimi, egg…) (2, 8, 9, 12). 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 Most research studies focused on consumer attitudes towards HPP technology are favorable.

According to Olsen et al. (11) attitudes towards novel processing products as HPP are based on both general socio-political attitudes, on risk/benefit trade-offs of the product attributes, and on consumers’ possibilities to evaluate the products. The main benefits linked to HPP technologies are the health-related, taste-related and environment-related benefits. The results show that consumers perceived the main advantages of HPP products to be the products’ naturalness, improved taste and their high nutritional value, whereas the main disadvantage was the lack of information about the HPP products.

Furthermore, HPP products were seen as positive because the natural texture is retained better, and because of the environmental friendliness. (10) According to several researches HPP has been judged to be relatively similar to conventional process technologies in terms of overall consumer acceptability (13). Although Nielsen et al. (10) and Cardello et al. (2) cautioned that an element of consumer uncertainty and risk could still be expected with high pressure processed foods.

Legal aspects High hydrostatic processed foods fall in the scope of Regulation (EC) 258/97 on novel foods and novel food ingredients, article 1, item f (5). 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. 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 Some research articles have quoted environmental-friendliness of HPP:

  • HPP products are seen as positive because the natural texture is retained better, and because of the environmental friendliness. (10)
  • Cardello et al. (2) concluded that the important benefit of the HPP and PEF treatments are the improved nutritional value of the foodstuffs, the retained vitamins, the products fresher taste and the environmental friendliness.

Further Information

Institutes IRTA, DIL, KU Leuven LFT, FRIP, Wageningen UR - FBR, TU Berlin
Companies Hiperbaric, Resato, Uhde-HPT, ŽĎAS, Beskyd Fryčovice, APA Processing
References [[References::1. Bauer, B. A., Hartmann, M., Sommer, K., & Knorr, D. (2004). “Optical in situ analysis of starch granules under high pressure with a high pressure cell.” Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 5, 293–298

2. 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

3. Cardoso, C., R. Mendes, et al. (2011). "Production of high quality gels from sea bass: Effect of MTGase and dietary fibre." Lwt-Food Science and Technology 44(5): 1282-1290

4. Cheftel, J. C. (1992). Effects of high hydrostatic pressure on food constituents: an overview, Colloque Inserm/John Libbey Eurotext.

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 [common procedure].

7. Hite, B. H. (1899). The effect of pressure in the preservation of milk. Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 58: 15-35.

8. Hu, F., H. Lu, et al. (2010). Effects of ultra-high pressure on gel properties of big head croaker (Collichthys lucidus) surimi. Journal of Fisheries of China 34(3): 329-335

9. Miyoshi, E. and T. Koseki (2010). Gel Formation Induced by Pressure Denaturation of Ovalbumin. Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Kogaku Kaishi 57(6): 268-272

10. 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

11. 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

12. Qiu, Z. and H. Rui (2010). Effects of ultra high pressure treat on the properties of ground chicken meat products containing modified starch. Modern Food Science and Technology 26(7): 688-692, 749

13. Sorenson, D. and M. Henchion (2011). Understanding consumers’ cognitive structures with regard to high pressure processing: A means-end chain application to the chilled ready meals category, Food Quality and Preference 22: 271–280]]

pressure, holding time at pressure, temperature starch type, water/food composition High Pressure equipment 2.2.3 physical structure forming other Internal data base, WOK, SCOPUS Search terms: HPP, HHP, high pressure, gelatinization, gelatinisation, jellification, gelation, gel WikiSysop :Template:Review document :Template:Review status

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Created by Hte irta on 9 February 2012, at 13:26