High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) is becoming more widespread in the world of raw pet food. Primal announced early this week that they will be using HPP on their poultry products. They join Stella & Chewey’s and Nature’s Variety in utilizing this additional step of processing raw diets.
HPP is a process which uses pressure to kill pathogens in food. The product is submerged in a water bath, and then pressurized for a brief period of time. Since pressure is applied evenly from all directions, the product remains intact. There is a slight temperature rise during the 3 minute process, and the benefits of pasteurization are achieved without added heat. You can watch a video of the HPP process here.
HPP has become a controversial process for some raw feeders and manufacturers. While most are in agreement about the efficacy of the process to kill bacteria such as salmonella, some claim the process is unnecessary while others are concerned over damage to the food. Some testing has shown food exposed to HPP to be nutritionally identical to unprocessed food. Other HPP tests have shown proteins to be denatured, or structurally changed, leading to a reduction in nutritional value.
The extent to which proteins may be denatured under HPP remains an open questio since each manufacturer uses a different process. The pressure, volume and temperatures involved all have a bearing on how much, if any, of an effect the process will have on their food.
The main rationale behind HPP is to ensure the safety of the food and eliminate “bad” bacteria and parasites. Food processed using HPP tests favorably for the absence of salmonella, e. coli and other nasty bacteria. It does not, however, guarantee the absence of these pathogens following testing, since the process may not eliminate the bacterial spores which can lead to new growth.
So why use HPP at all? There has been increased scrutiny by the FDA and USDA on raw pet food diets. HPP allows manufacturers to comply with standards, even though these standards represent a “cleaner” food supply than what is found in supermarkets for human consumption. Since human meats are intended to be cooked, and cooking kills the majority of pathogens addressed by HPP, these foods actually contain higher allowable levels of bacteria.
Raw pet foods, intended to be fed raw (but not consumed by humans) are required to test for lower levels of bacteria than human meats. Even though our pets’ digestive systems are well equipped to handle these higher levels, problems can still arise if the meat is handled carelessly and proper cleanup procedures are not followed.
So, is HPP a boon or a step backwards for raw feeding? That depends on your personal opinion of the process and whether you trust the manufacturer of the product you choose to feed. There are options available for either approach. Is one better than the other? It depends on your “philosophy”. Still confused? Comment below, give us a call, or send an email- we’ll be happy to share a bit more information and help you make sense of this information.