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Superheated Steam Processing: An Emerging Technology to Improve Food Quality and Safety

Source: Institute of Food Science and Technology

Recently, the Team of Chinese Food Processing and Equipment, Institute of Food Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IFST, CAAS), reviewed the impact of superheated steam (SHS) on the nutritional, physicochemical, and safety properties of various foodstuffs including meat, fruits, vegetables, cereals, etc. Additionally, they also summarized the basic principles, and engineering applications of SHS technology. The relevant research results were published in the journal Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (IF=11.176) with the title “Superheated steam processing: An emerging technology to improve food quality and safety”.


The review indicated that compared to conventional processing methods, SHS holds higher heat transfer coefficients, which can reduce microorganisms on surface of foodstuffs efficiently. Additionally, SHS generates a low oxygen environment, which prevents lipid oxidation and harmful compounds generation. Furthermore, SHS can facilitate development of desired product quality, such as protein denaturation with functional characteristics, proper starch gelatinization, and also reduce nutrient loss, and improve the physicochemical properties. However, SHS at high temperature and long processing time can lead to quality degradation and some undesirable physicochemical properties. Therefore, to fully exploit SHS potential, more research effort is needed to clarify quality formation mechanisms and thus help to minimize its negative effects.


At present, green, health, nutrition, and low carbon have become the fashion pursued by consumers. Mitigating chemical degradation reactions, maximizing nutrient retention, reducing hazardous compounds generation and carbon emission are essential trends for today’s advanced food processing technologies. As SHS technology continues to mature, it will find more applications in food processing industry and play an increasingly important role to upgrade the current food systems to a greener and more sustainable one.


This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2017YFD0400505), the Science and Technology Innovation Project of the CAAS (CAAS-ASTIP-2020-IFST-05), and Central Public-interest Scientific Institution Basal Research Fund (No. S2020JBKY-21).


Fig. 1. Overview of some recent developments of SHS in the food processing area.


Link to the paper: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2022.2059440


By Han Dong (handong@caas.cn)