The use of pasteurization units (PU) as a measure of the lethal effect of processes was proposed with the aim of comparing conventional and novel thermal technologies. Kiwifruit puree was subjected to microwave (1000 and 900W) and conventional (97°C) heating. Processing conditions of the treatments were chosen to simulate a pasteurization treatment. The temperature profiles of the samples during processing were recorded at different positions. The coldest and hottest spots of the product were identified and the associated PU numbers were calculated. A significantly (p<0.05) higher thermal load was necessary in order to stabilize the kiwifruit puree under conventional (19.27min) than microwave heating mode (0.003-8min) at any of the conditions studied. The higher effectiveness of microwave heating could be attributed to non-thermal effects associated with this technology.