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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018;58(13):2285-2298. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1434609. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Enhancing Food Processing by Pulsed and High Voltage Electric Fields: Principles and Applications.

Wang Q1,2,3, Li Y1,2,3, Sun DW1,2,3,4, Zhu Z1,2,3.

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a School of Food Science and Engineering , South China University of Technology , Guangzhou 510641 , China.
b Academy of Contemporary Food Engineering , South China University of Technology, Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center , Guangzhou 510006 , China.
c Engineering and Technological Research Centre of Guangdong Province on Intelligent Sensing and Process Control of Cold Chain Foods , Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center , Guangzhou 510641 , China.
d Food Refrigeration and Computerized Food Technology (FRCFT), Agriculture and Food Science Centre , University College Dublin, National University of Ireland , Belfield , Dublin 4 , Ireland.


Improvements in living standards result in a growing demand for food with high quality attributes including freshness, nutrition and safety. However, current industrial processing methods rely on traditional thermal and chemical methods, such as sterilization and solvent extraction, which could induce negative effects on food quality and safety. The electric fields (EFs) involving pulsed electric fields (PEFs) and high voltage electric fields (HVEFs) have been studied and developed for assisting and enhancing various food processes. In this review, the principles and applications of pulsed and high voltage electric fields are described in details for a range of food processes, including microbial inactivation, component extraction, and winemaking, thawing and drying, freezing and enzymatic inactivation. Moreover, the advantages and limitations of electric field related technologies are discussed to foresee future developments in the food industry. This review demonstrates that electric field technology has a great potential to enhance food processing by supplementing or replacing the conventional methods employed in different food manufacturing processes. Successful industrial applications of electric field treatments have been achieved in some areas such as microbial inactivation and extraction. However, investigations of HVEFs are still in an early stage and translating the technology into industrial applications need further research efforts.


Electric fields; HVEF; PEF; food processing; mass transfer; polarization

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