Infrared Heating in Food Processing: An Overview
Infrared (IR) heating provides significant advantages over conventional heating, including reduced heating time, uniform heating, reduced quality losses, absence of solute migration in food material, versatile, simple, and compact equipment, and significant energy saving. Infrared heating can be applied to various food processing operations, namely, drying, baking, roasting, blanching, pasteurization, and sterilization. Combinations of IR heating with microwave heating and other common conductive and convective modes of heating have been gaining momentum because of increased energy throughput. This article reviews aspects of IR heating and presents a theoretical basis for IR heat processing of food materials and the interaction of IR radiation with food components. The effect of IR on food quality attributes is discussed in the context of samples and process parameters. Applications of IR heating in food processing operations and future research potential are also reviewed.