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Ultrasonic processing has wide applicability in the food industry. Ultrasonication can be used to improve conventional food processing unit operations by reducing energy and chemical requirements, thus offering a greener option. It can also be used to modify foods to create novel food products not possible using conventional food processing technologies. The unique mechanisms of ultrasound derive from both the physical interactions between the ultrasonic wave and the food medium and the phenomenon known as acoustic cavitation, which is the growth and collapse of bubbles in fluids. Food processing operations that can be enhanced by the physical effects of ultrasonic waves include drying, defoaming and solid–liquid separations. The physical effects resulting from acoustic cavitation can be used for food emulsification, extraction, crystallisation and freezing and enhancement of filtration. Viscosity and texture modification, enhancement of wine maturation and deactivation of enzymes and microorganisms can result from a combination of the physical and chemical effects of acoustic cavitation. Currently, ultrasound is being used in only a few select commercial applications in the food industry, but the future outlook is promising based on positive laboratory and pilot-scale findings.

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