• high-pressure processing;
  • organic acid profile;
  • ranch dressing;
  • sensory analysis;
  • spoilage

ABSTRACT:  High-pressure processing (HPP) can reduce or eliminate microorganisms of concern in food without deteriorating product quality; however, quality benefits must justify the substantial capital investment for the utilization of this technology. HPP is particularly a beneficial preservation technology for products damaged by thermal treatments or when product quality could be improved by reformulation to raise pH or eliminate chemical preservatives. The primary objectives of this study were to determine the efficacy of HPP to protect premium ranch dressing (pH 4.4) from microbial spoilage and to assess changes in physical, chemical, and sensory attributes throughout the product's shelf life. In inoculated-packages studies, the efficacy of HPP was measured against ranch dressing spoilage organisms: Pediococcus acidilactici, Lactobacillus brevis, and Torulaspora delbrueckii. HPP treatment (600 MPa, 3 min) decreased population of P. acidilactici, the most pressure-resistant spoilage organism tested, by ≥ 6.4 log CFU/g. During a shelf-life study of edible product, treating ranch dressing at 600 MPa for 5 min effectively prevented microbial spoilage throughout the storage period (26 wk at 4 and 26 °C). The pH and emulsion stability of ranch dressing were not adversely influenced by HPP. Extended storage of HPP product for 16 to 26 wk at 26 °C resulted in a decrease in consumer acceptance and significant changes in color and organic acid profile (specifically, increased pyroglutamic acid). These changes were consistent with those expected during extended storage of commercially available products. HPP may be used to produce premium ranch dressing, with defined shelf-life and storage conditions, without significantly changing product attributes.