Within the food industry, there are different types of treatments used for products that are distributed to consumers. A great emphasis is placed on monitoring and supervising each of these processes, in order to deliver a rich and pleasing product, while ensuring that it’s not toxic for our health.

Therefore, below we will take a look at some of the most used heat treatments in the food sector to find out what are the main advantages and what type of food they are generally used for.

Why is heat treatment necessary in food?

The principal purpose of using heat treatments in the food industry is to destroy or eliminate enzymes or microorganisms that can alter food (agents that can cause diseases). 

Meanwhile, these are other advantages that the application of intense heat can offer:

  • Generate certain physical characteristics (in consistency, colour and shape). 

  • Try to maintain certain components of food (proteins and vitamins, among others). 

  • Offer a quality product, at the lowest cost. 

On the other hand, we must consider that, if these types of treatments are not applied by experts, it could lead to unsatisfactory or undesirable results for the industry.

What types of heat treatments are there?

Now we will see four types of heat treatments that are the most used in the industry and offer the best results. These are: 

Scalding treatment

This is a process that is used, prior to other types of treatment processes. It’s mainly used for vegetables and animal products (although, not all vegetables and fruits can be scalded). Its use mainly focuses on: 

  • Peeling and removing skins.

  • Maintaining the sensory properties of food (taste, smell and colour). 

  • Process. Water is heated and once it’s boiling you add the food. Intense direct steam can also be applied to the food.

Cooking treatment

Recognized more as a technique that is applied directly in the culinary industry, it’s a treatment that can also help, to some extent, to reduce microbial production. Meanwhile, its main objectives are:

  • To generate certain changes in texture, composition and colour of food. 

  • Soften food and make it easier to digest. 

  • Make food more enjoyable for consumption.

This treatment can be complemented with the use of seasonings and spices. There are also different cooking systems divided between continuous and discontinuous, to obtain different results. 

Process. Some water or oil is heated to reach a high temperature in order to alter the composition of the food.

Pasteurization treatment

Pasteurization is one of the oldest methods in the food industry and it’s one of the most effective treatment systems. Its main benefits are: 

  • Food preservation.

  • Elimination of pathogenic organisms

  • Trying to maintain the sensory qualities of the food.

It’s necessary to clarify that, when using pasteurization it’s necessary to make certain calculations (in relation to the amount of time and temperature), so as not to expose the food too much and generate a loss of nutrients. 

In addition, this type of treatment has certain goals depending on the type of food. So, if a food is very acidic, the goal will be to stabilize it; and if the food has low acidity, the goal will be to destroy pathogens.

Process. First, a heat treatment is applied to generate a shock. Thus, chemical additives can be applied that will extend the life of the food and keep the product stable.

Meanwhile, you can opt for a batch process, where the product is first packaged and then pasteurized, or continuously pasteurize first and then package (a decision that may affect the choice of the container).

Sterilization treatment

If the aim is to subject the food to high temperatures, above 100 ° C, to preserve it and eliminate organisms, then heat treatment by sterilization is necessary. Its main objectives are:

  • To completely eliminate spores and microorganisms in foods that can lead to serious diseases (such as botulism).

  • Extend the durability of the food for much longer (some foods can last more than a year).

  • Ensure that the product remains stable, despite variations in ambient temperature.

Now, depending on whether it’s first packaged and then sterilized or vice versa, different technologies may be required.  

Process. It involves subjecting the food to high temperatures, for a certain amount of time, to ensure that harmful components are removed. In addition, to aid the thermal process, a type of water or oil-based liquid can be used, serving as protection to stop the food from being damaged in case of direct exposure to heat. 

Conclusions on types of heat treatment of foodstuffs

The food industry is one of the most monitored by authorities and autonomous bodies, to ensure that what is produced is of high quality and nutritious. If the right industrial tools are not used, it can lead to undesirable consequences for the company and the consumer.

As experts in the development and manufacture of machinery to improve and optimize processes in this industry, InoxMIM can help you achieve the desired results. Just contact us by calling +34 972 58 20 40, sending an email to inoxmim@inoxmim.com or filling out the form below and one of our sales technicians will call you shortly.