Conventional heating on an industrial-scale to pasteurize or sterilize foods can be performed in batch or continuous basis and products can be either packaged or unpackaged during heating. Once heat reaches the outer surfaces of a foodstuff it is transferred to the product interior by either conduction, convection or both. Conventional thermal treatments are highly efficient in the inactivation of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms and enzymes. However, they pose drawbacks: loss of nutritional and functional quality, loss of sensory quality, etc. _x000D_On the other hand, European consumer preferences have evolved towards an increase in the demand of more convenient foods with a greater shelf life, limiting the degradation processes, and with a greater practical of use. Additionally, consumers are becoming more and more interested on the effect of food on their health. Thus, additive-free products and products with nutritional and functional qualities are demanded._x000D_Electroheating, e.g. radio-frecuency (RF), differs from conventional heating in that heat is generated volumetrically within the material due to the interaction with electromagnetic radiation (formed by the conversion of electrical energy to electromagnetic radiation at 1–300 MHz frequencies). RF technology is currently used in the food industry for thawing and post-baking. The rapid heating and high penetration of RF energy make it an attractive alternative for pasteurizing and sterilizing foods improving productivity and efficiency of industrial processes, and producing tasty, nutritious and healthy foodstuffs. Therefore, RF heating can be a potential alternative method for heating heat sensitive food, and pharmaceutical and specialized products such as nutraceuticals and functional food ingredients._x000D__x000D_The commercial applications of RF in foods focus COly in thawing frozen foods and drying of bakery products. RF for food pasteurization or sterilization is not yet been developed and implemented on an industrial scale due to many reasons: lack of knowledge about the effect on food products, lack of suitable equipment, inability to ensure the sterilization of all the package, economic constraints, etc. A number of potential problems need to be addressed before the RF technology can be successfully commercialized to food pasteurization or sterilization._x000D__x000D_The overall objective of the FREQUAL project is to improve the industrial implementation of RF technology, as a method for the pasteurization and sterilization of liquid, liquid with particulates or semi-liquid food products in a continuous basis or in a badge basis (packaged products). The project will enable:_x000D_- the development of optimal applications and industrial equipment_x000D_- the development of food products with improved nutritional, organoleptic and shelf life characteristics and also minimum energy cost and environmental impact. _x000D__x000D_The food matrices under study will be: fruit juices and diced fruits, milk and non-dairy milk products (soy milk, almond milk, etc.), tomato based products (diced tomato, crushed tomato, tomato sauces) and vegetable sauces. The specific scientific and technical objectives are:_x000D_- to assess the added value of RF technology, identifying the quality benefits: To identify and describe the degradation of sensory and nutritional food characteristics identifying critical factors_x000D_- to perform a microbial risk assessment: To identify and describe the mechanisms and kinetics of inactivation of pathogens, toxin formers and spoilage microorganisms under RF treatment, identifying critical factors as matrix effect, oil content, aw, pH, etc. In this regard, it is intended to acquire relevant insights on the additional non thermal inactivation effect attributed to RF by some authors._x000D_- to select the most appropriate process and working parameters to achieve the desired quality and to ensure the safety of treated foods for the required storage periods along the food chain._x000D_- to optimize the current industrial equipments and develop new equipments to achieve the expected results _x000D__x000D_Hence, the CO outputs of the project will be of interest COly for food producers supplying knowledge, tools and equipments in order to produce and market safe and better quality foods products according with current consumer demands. _x000D__x000D_The FREQUAL project will have a duration of 30 months._x000D__x000D_The consortium is composed of CARTIGLIANO and RIBEREGA. CARTIGLIANO is a RF equipment developer and manufacturer and RIBEREGA is a food processing SME, both of them with expertise in the relevant technological areas. With this project, CARTIGLIANO will target a wider market, counting on technological and scientific knowledge to support his business strategy. RIBEREGA will obtain a new range of tomato and vegetable based products with market-differentiating qualities and with a lower operating cost and improved environmental efficiency.

Acronym FREQUAL (Reference Number: 7963)
Duration 01/11/2013 - 31/10/2016
Project Topic The overall objective is to improve the industrial implementation of RF technology, as a method for the pasteurization and sterilization of liquid, liquid with particulates or semi-liquid food products in a continuous basis or in a badge basis (packaged products).
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 9

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 Officine di Cartigliano S.p.A. Coordinator Italy
2 RIBEREGA, S.COOP. Partner Spain