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Absolute sterility is not yet guaranteed

Our food today is high quality and pretty safe. While this is true in general, some products can’t be produced in entirely sterile conditions without loosing a lot of their nutritional value. In addition, offering the huge product spectrum we expect in a modern supermarkets necessitates lengthy journeys and storage times. This exposes food to the risk of contamination with pathogens. Fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, meat, fish and eggs are especially prone to contamination.

Plasma technology to counter contamination

Plasma technology is capable of reducing levels of contamination in foods. Nonetheless more research is needed comments the network "Plasma4Food" in a German food trade journal "Deutsche Lebensmittel-Rundschau". The network was founded in 2012, it consists of 15 small and medium-sized enterprises and research institutes.

What is plasma and how do they work?

Plasmas are ionised gases: they’re used, for example, in medicine for fast sterilization of materials and packaging materials. Plasmas are characterised by electrical conductivity due to the free electrons. They’re effective against a broad spectrum of microorganisms. In contrast to thermal and chemical sterilisation processes, they neither impact on the foodstuffs nor is there any risk of residues. Plasma treatment extends the shelf life of foods with benefits for producers and for retailers. And it will reduce waste.

How far is the research?

The use of plasma for sterilising the production environment, like conveyor belts and cutting tools, or packaging is already close to market readiness. By contrast direct treatment of foodstuffs is relatively unresearched. Future investigations must demonstrate whether plasma treatment impacts on food quality, including appearance, smell, taste and ingredients. 


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de