Radio frequency (RF) heating is a promising technology for food applications because of the associated rapid and uniform heat distribution, large penetration depth and lower energy consumption. Radio frequency heating has been successfully applied for drying, baking and thawing of frozen meat and in meat processing. However, its use in continuous pasteurization and sterilization of foods is rather limited. During RF heating, heat is generated within the product due to molecular friction resulting from oscillating molecules and ions caused by the applied alternating electric field. RF heating is influenced principally by the dielectric properties of the product when other conditions are kept constant. This review deals with the current status of RF heating applications in food processing, as well as product and system specific factors that influence the RF heating. It is evident that frequency level, temperature and properties of food, such as viscosity, water content and chemical composition affect the dielectric properties and thus the RF heating of foods. Therefore, these parameters should be taken into account when designing a radio frequency heating system for foods.
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