Hailing a patent-pending process for a new line of fresh hamburger patties as a "a natural option for food safety" and a "technological breakthrough," meat-industry giant Cargill has begun using a method of high-pressure processing to produce its newly introduced "Fressure" hamburgers for food-service customers.
Cargill spokesman Michael Martin told Food Safety News that the company is already taking orders and shipping product. He also said that as orders for "Fressure" burgers grow, the company will likely explore introducing them into retail markets.
According to recent market research about hamburgers done by Mintel Reports, the use of "fresh" as a burger claim climbed by 18 percent from 2007 to 2010.
While high-pressure processing (generally referred to as HPP), is already being used on a wide array of food products, including ready-to-eat meats, salsas, guacamoles, juices, and shellfish, the patent-pending process developed by Cargill for fresh hamburger patties represents an impressive breakthrough, say food-safety scientists and HPP advocates.
The benefits of HPP include a reduction of foodborne pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, extended shelf life, and fresh taste because HPP uses pressure instead of heat to process the food. As a result, preservatives and chemicals don't need to be used in HPP food products.
Another plus is that because certain chemical bonds aren't broken during HPP, no free radicals or chemical by-products are formed, both of which have become concerns for consumers. Yet, HPP doesn't affect the structures of food components that are responsible for nutrition and flavor.
And because HPP doesn't add anything to food, it doesn't require approval from government regulators.
Food products that go through HPP are already packaged, thus eliminating the chance of recontamination before the food is shipped to customers. Even so, people preparing the food must follow food-safety procedures to keep the food safe from foodborne pathogens.
A boon for food service
Cargill says that for food-service customers, "Fressure" burger patties are a boon because the HPP process doubles the patties' shelf life, while also keeping the "fresh" flavor intact and enhancing food safety.
Brent Wolke, vice president for Cargill's Wichita, Kansas-based food-service meat business said ground-beef customers have told the company that they want a product with a longer shelf life that doesn't sacrifice the quality, flavor, texture and eating experience consumers are willing to pay for when they want a good hamburger.