High Pressure Processing (HPP) is a method of preservation, in which a food is processed under very high pressure, leading to the inactivation of most microorganisms and enzymes in the treated food.
Foods and food ingredients treated with HPP have been sold in the Canadian market place since at least 2004 when Health Canada assessed the food safety of apple sauce and apple sauce/fruit blends treated with HPP as an alternative to heat treatment (Health Canada, 2004).
Since that time, Health Canada has assessed a number of HPP-treated foods and food ingredients (regulated as Novel Foods under Division 28, Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations) of various compositions (e.g., Ready-To-Eat meats, raw meats, fruit and vegetable-based juices/smoothies, egg products and other spreads, etc.) under a range of treatment pressures (80,000-87,000 psi) and treatment times (1-27 min).
Health Canada has become familiar with HPP and the various ways in which food manufacturers apply this technology as an alternative food processing treatment to achieve food safety.
The general conclusion of these assessments is that HPP, as applied by food manufacturers under commercial settings, does not pose an increased risk to the safety of these HPP-treated products compared to their untreated counterparts.
Based on the number of HPP-related assessments conducted by the Department, the scientific literature currently available regarding HPP and the breadth of food products that are known to be treated with HPP, it is the position of Health Canada that HPP is no longer considered a novel process.
Consequently, food products treated with HPP will no longer be considered novel foods and as such are no longer subject to pre-notification under Division 28, Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations. However, the manufacturer or importer of HPP-treated food products is still responsible for ensuring that these products are in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
For all packaging materials associated with foods treated with HPP, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that such materials are appropriate for their HPP treatment and do not pose a health risk to the consumer as per Division 23, Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations.
Going forward, Health Canada will continue to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to ensure that HPP-treated foods are produced safely and applications of this technology are used appropriately.