Pulsed electric fields

S. Ravishankar, H. Zhang, M. L. Kempkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The concept of pulsed electric fields (PEF) was first proposed in 1967 to change the behavior or microorganisms. The electric field phenomenon was identified as membrane rupture theory in the 1980s. Increasing the membrane permeability led to the application of PEF assisted extraction of cellular content and transfer of genetic material across cell membrane. The lethal effects of PEF to microorganisms were studied in 1990s when laboratory and pilot plant equipment were developed to evaluate the effect of PEF as a nonthermal food process to provide consumers with microbiologically-safe and fresh-like quality foods. Application of high voltage electric field at a certain level for a very short time by PEF not only inactivates pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms, but also results in the retention of flavor, aroma, nutrients, and color of foods. The first commercial PEF pasteurization of apple cider products took place in 2005 in the United States. This paper provides current information about PEF food processing and identifies a list of research needs to further develop PEF technology for food processing and preservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-432
Number of pages4
JournalFood Science and Technology International
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Nonthermal
  • Pasteurization
  • Pulsed electric fields
  • Quality
  • Research needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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