• Barry McCann

HPP Indicator Technology helps food brands know … for certain


Since the late 1800's, when food suppliers started using heat pasteurization to kill bacteria in milk and other foods, millions have been spared from diseases such as typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease, anthrax, and of course, bacterial poisoning.

Some foods can’t be heat pasteurized without changing the flavor, texture and visual appearance, though. These include juices, meat, poultry, seafood, salsas, guacamole, fruits and vegetables, salads, dips and ready to eat meals.

Fortunately, Pascalization or high pressure processing (HPP) became available commercially in 1990. An HPP machine essentially pressurizes chilled water – the food needing to be treated – in a sealed chamber up to 87,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) for a few minutes.

During the process, many microorganisms die, yet the color, texture, taste and nutritional value of the food remain intact, unlike heat pasteurization. Naturally, HPP also increases the shelf-life of food and avoids or reduces the need for preservatives. Another benefit for the seafood industry is that HPP allows shucking and extraction of crustacean meat (like lobster) without heat and with near-perfection. No more wasted meat from manual shucking or extraction.

A few years ago, food brands approached CTI to help solve a nagging problem: Food packages that have been through HPP look exactly the same as ones that haven’t.

So how do you know that a package hasn’t accidentally bypassed the process? Or how do you know if a package reached the target pressure for a long enough time?

CTI invented HPP Indicator technology, delivered through commercial printing inks, to show visually that a food package has been HPPed. Before processing, the ink looks clear or barely visible. After HPP, the ink changes color to a bold and beautiful blue or aqua.

This technology prints like any other commercial ink and is available in UV Flexo, Water-Based Flexo, Gravure, Offset and other formats. Food brands can place small HPP Indicator labels in inconspicuous places, print HPP ink dots on vacuum-seal film or incorporate HPP ink design elements into their existing consumer packaging.

CTI works with brands and converters to select the best HPP Indicator technology for their HPP recipe (food, processing settings, water temperature and refrigerator transportation). We support from graphic design through testing and commercialization.

CTI is the world’s largest producer of thermochromic ink and manufactures other environmentally reactive technology, such as photochromic, pressure activated, fluorescing and glow-in-the dark. CTI is an innovation company that supports the world’s biggest brands and packaging printers. Contact us or call (719) 592-1557 to see how HPP Indicators can help improve quality control and potentially reduce the risk of a consumer getting a non-HPPed package.


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