Hormel Foods is taking steps to eliminate foodborne pathogens from its processed ham products. The Austin, Minn.-based company recently installed Fresher Under Pressure post-packaging treatment equipment. The Kent, Wash.-based Flow International manufactures the equipment. Flow has agreed to provide equipment and technical support to assist Hormel in developing and commercializing the technology.

The Fresher Under Pressure technology goes to work once the food is packaged, eliminating the possibility of Listeria contamination. This foodborne pathogen can remain active in processed meats and food products such as luncheon meats, hot dogs and yogurt. In Hormel’s case, the treated ham product retains it freshness, taste, texture and nutritional value without any chemical changes. Besides helping eliminate foodborne pathogens, this technology increases the processed meat products shelf life by at least 2.5 times that of untreated products.

“For all intents and purposes, this is a hydrostatic, cold-pasteurization
method,” says Rick Marshall, Flow International's vice president of corporate market/applications development. “It kills pathogens and spoilage organisms through the use of high pressure, rather than heat.”

“This technology will be a tremendous tool for Hormel to use to ensure product integrity without compromising quality,” says Forrest Dryden, Hormel's vice president of research & development. “We are anxious to immediately market these products, which will have the added benefits of increased shelf-life and product safety.”