High pressure pasteurization (HPP) is an increasingly common method to insure that raw food is safe, especially for people, but also dogs and cats. But what is it?

Simply put, HPP is the application of ultra-high pressure to a packaged food while in a water bath. Because the food package is in water the pressure is applied uniformly to the food and doesn’t cause any physical damage to the food itself or the package. Currently, it’s the only pasteurization process that does not use heat or irradiation.
This high pressure type of processing destroys common food-borne pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella without changing the nutritional value or the fresh characteristics of the food. Nutrients and enzymes remain intact, however, beneficial bacteria are also eliminated with the pathogens during this process.

Because beneficial bacteria is vital to digestive health you can either add them back in by including a quality probiotic, Greek yogurt, or Additional Answers raw goat’s milk in your dog or cat’s diet. Stella & Chewy’s is currently the only company that adds the good bugs back in for you.

Another benefit of HPP over thermal processing is that no free radicals are formed and no chemical by-products are created.

HPP is gaining popularity among raw pet food manufacturers who wish to make their products more appealing to the traditional veterinary community and pet owners who want to feed raw, but with zero risk of bacterial contamination. Two popular lines of dog and cat food that use this technology are Stella & Chewy’s and Primal. Both the companies use HPP in their raw frozen and their freeze-dried formulas.

Some raw food purists feel that HPP creates “sterile” raw food, which should not be considered raw, because the “living” food is modified. However, HPP-processed raw pet food can be beneficial for dogs and cats with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, and it’s a good alternative for pet owners who want to feed raw to a dog or cat in less than optimal health. It’s also a good option in any household with family members who may have a compromised immune system.

One important point to remember is that HPP-treated foods are still raw. Be sure to follow all safe food handling practices with HPP-treated pet food.