Innovative process reduces energy consumption and improves product quality in the food industry

October 17, 2002

Consumers will eat better and will enjoy a healthier environment thanks to a new canning process for jars and cans. This innovative research is taking place at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Food Research and Development Centre in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada.

The research project uses a technology that reduces energy consumption in the canning of products containing fruit, vegetable and/or meat pieces, such as sauces and soups.

The advantages include a 30-per-cent reduction in energy consumption during the heating process and a 17- per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Above all, food quality is improved. Food retains its flavour and has a crunchier texture and brighter colour. Vitamins and nutrients are preserved. The process will also reduce production costs for food processors.

In the food processing industry, canning is the process that consumes the most energy and leads to the creation of greenhouse gases. To ensure food safety, the contents of a can must be heated to a very high temperature (121 C) for a minimum of three minutes.

The new process, developed by centre researcher Dr. Michèle Marcotte and her team, is designed to replace the current high-temperature method with a two-stage system. The first stage involves acidifying foods to a pH of less than 4.6. The acidification makes it possible to reduce the subsequent pasteurization temperature, while ensuring product safety.

"This project reflects leadership in innovation and dedication to the highest standards of food safety and quality that truly characterize the vision of the Agricultural Policy Framework," said Lyle Vanclief, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "By combining research, innovation and environmental sustainability, we are recognizing the high expectations of today's consumers."
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The Agricultural Policy Framework, which involves a collaborative effort by the federal and provincial governments and industry, aims to make Canada the world leader in food safety and quality, environmentally responsible production and innovation.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada

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