High Pressure Pasteurization

April 6, 2006

April 6, 2006

A few years ago, I did a couple of radio commentaries on irradiation as an effective way to make our food supply safer. I even bought some irradiated hamburger at the supermarket in support of the cause. But, in the end, irradiation never got off the ground. Irradiation just scared people. They were afraid they would glow in the dark.

Alright, that didn't work. And we still have deadly outbreaks of food-borne disease. In 1998, listeria in hot dogs killed 21 people. In 1999, salmonella orange juice resulted in 423 illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 5,000 deaths per year are caused by food-borne pathogens.

Companies typically use chemical preservatives to eliminate these pathogens. However, more and more, consumers are asking for products free of preservatives and additives.

So, what do we do? We turn to high pressure pasteurization -- a technology developed by the

U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 90's. A Washington State company, Avure Technologies, has teamed with Hormel Foods, delivering to the consumer ready-to-eat natural choice ham and turkey products. Water pressure of 87,000 pounds per square inch kills the pathogens, but the texture and taste of the product remains constant. The shelflife is double that of chemical preservatives.

We already have the safest food supply in the world. But, that doesn't mean that we can't do better. This new technology, although slightly more expensive, may be the future. Now, I'm going to buy some natural choice ham to support the cause.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.