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NovelQ project bears fruit with new HPP packaging

By Jane Byrne , 04-Oct-2010

Trials are underway at Italian flexible film manufacturer Icimendue on a newly developed multilayered packaging applicable for high pressure food sterilization – one of many spin offs initiated under the EU funded NovelQ project, claims its coordinator.

The five year Commission backed project, costing €11.3m and involving leading food manufacturers, universities and research institutes, has reached its conclusion and dissemination stages, with a seminar highlighting key findings set to take place this week in the Netherlands at the facilities of Wageningen UR Food and Biobased Research.

NovelQ coordinator Ariette Matser told FoodProductionDaily.com that the packaging innovation from industry partner, Icimendue, resulted from the fact that early on funds were put aside to ensure translation of scientific insights from NovelQ into practical and commercially viable applications.

She stressed that when the project was kick-started, plant scale adoption of emerging processing techniques such as cold plasma, pulsed electric field, radio frequency, microwave and high pressure processing, in particular, seemed a long way off.

Five years on, proofs-of-principle have been demonstrated to show the potential of these methods and there are now over 35 high pressure pasteurisation based installations in Europe and over 75 in use in the US, for fruit juices, meats, tapas and whole meals.

Moreover, a cold plasma demonstrator has been developed and sold worldwide,” said Matser.

The teamwork by all the partners, she continued, has filled the knowledge gap that had existed in 2006 about the effects of HPP, PEF, cold plasma, advanced heating technologies and packaging types on the quality and shelf life of foods.

“We have also been able to perform pilot scale research on the HPP sterilisation method, with pilot scale equipment developed by Dutch equipment supplier Resato allowing the partners to research the effect of HPP sterilisation on real food products and perform the first step towards upscaling to industrial units," she added.

Moreover, explained Matser, the project has set up an efficient support system, through the NovelQ industry advisory platform to promote results and identify bottlenecks to technology adoption: “This aims to ensure equipment manufacturers drive forward the process of implementation at the plant level.”

The next six months, she explained, will see the dissemination of NovelQ’s results in peer reviewed journals and on the NovelQ website, while workshops over two days, beginning tomorrow, will demonstrate various applications for the various technologies and will also include one-on-one sessions with novel processing experts.

Participants will also be given the opportunity to debate the future of food research and development in Europe,” added Matser.

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