Pulsed Electric Field Technology

Pulsed electric field (PEF) technology as applied to food processing (Nafchi et al., 2012) has the advantages of low processing temperatures, continuous processing, short treatment times, and uniform treatment intensity and has been successfully applied to nonthermal pasteurization of liquid foods (Zeng et al., 2016).

Results of recent investigations have confirmed that the effects on starch granules are a function of electric field strength and time (at a constant field strength), with the field strength predominating (Han et al., 2012b) and that PEF treatment results in damage to granules and to their crystalline structures (Han et al., 2009a,b, 2012b; Zhang et al., 2011; Hu et al., 2012; Zeng et al., 2016), making the starch more susceptible to enzyme-catalyzed hydrolysis (Hu et al., 2012; Zeng et al., 2016). From a SAXS study, Zeng et al. (2016) found that the lamellar peak was reduced, an indication of the destruction of crystallites. PEF treatment also reduces the molecular weight of the amylopectin molecules (Han et al., 2012a; Zeng et al., 2016). The mechanism of the action of PEF on starch granules is unknown, but the limited information available indicates that the changes are similar enough to those produced by ultrasound radiation and the high-speed jet (the first of which is known to produce cavitation and the second of which is assumed to involve cavitation, at least in part) to suggest that cavitation may be at least partly involved.

PEF-assisted chemical modifications have been investigated.

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