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Treatment of blood plasma of animal origin by pulsed electric fields (PEF)


Key words plasma, pulsed electric fields (PEF), microbial quality, preservation, shelf-life, functional attributes, sausage, porcine blood plasma
Latest version 2013/08/02
Completed by DIL

How does it work?

Primary objective Inactivation of naturally occurring microorganisms to extend the shelf life of porcine blood plasma with minimal quality degradation.
Working principle Plasma solutions offer perfect growth conditions for microorganisms even during short, chilled storage periods. Prior to use as a food ingredient, the hygiene status of plasma has to be evaluated and a low microbial count level guaranteed.

The traditional method of pasteurisation of blood plasma is by thermal processing, using a plate or shell and tube heat exchanger. However, this method of thermal treatment causes denaturation of the plasma proteins, leading to a loss in functionality. In addition, the heat plate exchanger needs frequent aggressive cleaning. Pulsed electric field (PEF) processing is an alternative pasteurisation method providing fresh-like quality and at the same time reducing the damage that can be triggered by thermal processing [1]. PEF treatment involves the application of high voltage pulses obtaining a very specific effect on the membrane of microbial cells. The effect is based on electroporation and causes irreversible cell damage with a low thermal load. Due to the inactivation of spoilage microorganisms, the shelf life of the product, in this case plasma, can be increased. The level of inactivation and shelf life extension depends on the applied energy level. The higher the energy level, the longer the shelf life of the plasma [2]. A specific energy input of 100 kJ/kg may result in a maximum reduction of 4 log total plate count. The shelf life can be increased by a minimum of 4 days at 4°C [3].

The technological and functional properties of blood plasma are influenced by PEF depending on the applied treatment intensity [4]. If the treatment intensity is too high, a denaturation of proteins in plasma occurs. However, applying less than the maximum intensity gives improved shelf life without any effects on the heat-induced gel strength and solubility of plasma proteins.

Additional effects
Important process parameters electric field strength, specific energy input, treatment time, temperature
Important product parameters protein content

What can it be used for?

Products Plasma (liquid, frozen or spray-dried) in cooked sausages and pastries [1].
Operations Preservation
Solutions for short comings
  • Improve the microbiological shelf-life of porcine blood plasma
  • Avoid denaturation of proteins due to thermal treatments.

What can it NOT be used for?

Products PEF for preservation purposes can not be applied to solid foods, due to tissue disintegration
Operations If the protein content is too high and the aimed shelf life requires a high applied treatment intensity, protein denaturation could be induced.
Other limitations Considerable investment cost
Risks or hazards Electrochemical reactions and electrode erosion, resulting in damage of the product or insufficient treatment


Maturity Continuous systems, with different power and capacities are commercially available.

The use of batch systems is limited to the research area.

Modularity /Implementation Continuous systems can be easily implemented into existing lines.
Consumer aspects Consumers perceive the technique as environmentally friendly. Some are sceptical about the used electricity. [6,7]
Legal aspects
  • EU: According to available scientific papers [7, 8]: no novel food approval required
  • No declaration or labeling required
  • US: FDA letter of no objection (1996)
Environmental aspects Energy efficient

Further Information

Institutes DIL, TU Berlin, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Zaragoza, Washington State University
Companies Diversified Technologies, KEA-Tec
References [1.] Knorr, D., M. Geulen, T. Grahl and W. Sitzmann (1994): Food application of high electric field pulses. Trends in Food Science & Technology 5 (3) 71-75.

[2.] Aronsson, K., M. Lindgren, B. R. Johansson and U. Ronner (2001): Inactivation of microorganisms using pulsed electric fields: the influence of process parameters on Escherichia coli, Listeria innocua, Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 2 (1), 41-54.

[3.] Toepfl, S., G. Klein, M. Kießling und A. Boulaaba, (2010): Aufarbeitung von Schlachttierblut mit Hilfe gepulster elektrischer Felder (PEF) zur Keimverminderung und nachhaltigem Einsatz für Lebensmittel tierischen Ursprungs. Quakenbrück, Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V.; Hannover, Stiftung tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Abschlussbericht (AIF FV 15885).

[4.] Barsotti, L., E. Dumay, T. H. Mu, M.D. Fernandez Diaz and J.C. Cheftel (2001): Effects of high voltage electric pulses on protein-based food constituents and structures. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 12 (3-4), 136-144.

[5.] Olsen, N.V., Klaus Grunert, Anne-Mette Sonne, Jul.2010. Consumer acceptance of high-pressure processing and pulsed-electric field: a review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 21 (2010), 464-472.

[6.] Nielsen, H.B., Sonne, A.-M., Grunert, K.G., Banati, D., Pollák-Tóth, A., Lakner, Z., Olsen, N.V., Žontar, T.P., Peterman, M., Consumer perception of the use of high-pressure processing and pulsed electric field technologies in food production, Appetite 52 (2009) 115–126.

[7.] Schilling, S., S. Schmid, H. Jäger, M. Ludwig, H. Dietrich, S. Toepfl, D. Knorr, S. Neidhart, A. Schieber and R. Carle (2008). Comparative Study of Pulsed Electric Field and Thermal Processing of Apple Juice with Particular Consideration of Juice Quality and Enzyme Deactivation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56, No.12, pp. 4545 - 4554.

[8.] Vervoort, L., I. Van der Plancken, T. Grauwet, R. A. H. Timmermans, H. C. Mastwijk, A. M. Matser, M. E. Hendrickx and A. Van Loey (2012). Comparing equivalent thermal, high pressure and pulsed electric field processes for mild pasteurization of orange juice: Part II: Impact on specific chemical and biochemical quality parameters. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 12, No.4, pp. 466-477.

electric field strength, specific energy input, treatment time, temperature protein content PEF equipment 2.2.2 physical stabilizing other Sciencedirect, Web of science pulsed electric field preservation, pulsed electric field inactivation WikiSysop :Template:Review document :Template:Review status

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Created by Claudia Siemer on 2 August 2013, at 10:56