An interview with Dr. Anne-Marie Jank (Nutritional scientist with a PhD in molecular cell physiology*).
*Molecular cell physiology = The interaction of molecules and processes that keep a cell alive and healthy
*Cell = The smallest functional unit of an organism, like the human body
How did you get interested in HPP?
After my son was born, I became more and more interested in children’s nutrition. While introducing solids foods into my little one’s diet, there was one particular situation that made me really want to find out why commercially produced baby food is so different to homemade food, even though it contains the exact same ingredients!
I usually cooked baby food myself, but in a hurry I had to grab a jar of blended parsnip from a brand that has the highest organic standards. It not only looked completely different to parsnip purees I’d cooked at home before, but it tasted of old veg – it wasn’t yummy or fresh.
I realised that this is because most baby food in the supermarket is preserved with pasteurisation, which interferes with foods natural characteristics. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that there were already some innovative technologies to preserve food more gently, like High Pressure Processing (HPP).
What are the benefits of HPP compared to other food preservation treatments?
According to growing scientific evidence and our own research data, HPP has a better smell, flavour, colour, and retention of heat-sensitive nutrients compared to pasteurisation – leaving the HPP-processed food more natural. When comparing the results of the different treatments in the lab, you just have to look at, taste, and smell the food to easily identify the HPP-treated sample among the others.
At the moment we’re discovering more ways to use HPP. For example, research studies have shown that HPP could be helpful in deactivating certain allergens, or could increase the bioaccessibility of important nutrients (that’s the amount of nutrients available for uptake into the body).
With this knowledge, and by carrying out even more research on the health benefits of new food technologies, we can develop healthy organic food that supports healthy diets. As a scientist, you are always working on new solutions, and now at Mia & Ben I’m addicted to researching ways to make packaged food the best it can be!