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Supercritical fluid pasteurization has been studied for over 20 years and the state of science and technology is such that it is now a viable and economical alternative to thermal pasteurization for a number of food products. The manufacture and distribution of food faces increasingly strict demands in terms of both safety and quality. Traditional thermal pasteurization is both effective and well-accepted by the public for milk and other products. However, thermal treatment is less effective and sometimes infeasible for certain products, such as fruit juices, seafoods and fresh vegetables. This is particularly true when the food products are packaged and shipped long distances. Supercritical fluid technology, a non-thermal, low temperature process, has been shown to reduce the viability of a number of pathogenic organisms important to the food industry. In addition, supercritical fluids, particularly CO2, have promise in deactivating subcellular pathogens such as prions and viruses. Numerous basic science investigations reveal the mechanism of supercritical fluid pasteurization and how it differs from thermal methods. Several commercial companies have issued patents and built demonstration plants based on the technology. In addition, certain supercritical fluids may provide additional benefits for food processors. This chapter provides a comprehensive review of both science and technology of supercritical fluid technology as applied to foods.

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