New light technology helps improve food safety

July 15, 2015

Light-based technologies are emerging as tools to enhance food shelf life and guard against food contaminants but more research needs to be done, warn food scientists at a July 13 panel discussion at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago.

The use of ultraviolet light, pulsed light and LED lights are being studied by technologists as a new way to improve food longevity and assist in eliminating bacteria from such food products as milk and juices. However, scientists warn they need to learn more about how these light rays penetrate foods at varying degrees to ensure .

"Light-based technologies can assist in breaking down bacterial cells in food products and are effective for surface sterilization," said Dr. Kathiravan Krishnamurthy, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the Illinois Institute of Technology. "But the main issue with light-based technology is the penetration depth. We need to make sure every part of the sees the light."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates each year roughly one in six Americans—or 48 million people—gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. According to 2011 estimates, the most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Light technology provides a more cost-efficient and effective new way to process foods to effectively inactivate these dangerous microorganisms while maintaining product quality.

"Light-based technologies are very powerful for selected applications but more research needs to be done," Krishnamurthy said, adding they've mainly been used in non-food applications. "These technologies are still in their infancy."

Tatiana Koutchma, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food of Canada, has been exploring a new application by experimenting with UV purification to extend the shelf life of cold-pressed juices as well as iced teas, soft drinks, syrups, milk, cheese and calf milk.

"It's an alternative to pasteurization and ESL [extended ] method for juices, milk products, liquid sugars, liquid ingredients, raw, and finished food products," Koutchma said. "More research is needed for milk, fresh juices and wines."

Explore further: China, Taiwan strengthen food safety laws

More information: am-fe.ift.org/cms/

Related Stories

China, Taiwan strengthen food safety laws

July 15, 2015

China and Taiwan have enhanced the powers of their Food and Drug Administrations to be more effective in ensuring food safety and guarding against food fraud, according to a July 13 panel discussion at IFT15: Where Science ...

What causes the sunlight flavour in milk?

March 3, 2015

Most of us have tasted milk that has been left in the sun – it has a distinctive off-flavour. The reason is that milk and other dairy products turn rancid when exposed to light.

Recommended for you

Fossils reveal unseen 'footprint' maker

January 17, 2017

Fossils found in Morocco from the long-extinct group of sea creatures called trilobites, including rarely seen soft-body parts, may be previously unseen animals that left distinctive fossil 'footprints' around the ancient ...

Study finds links between swearing and honesty

January 16, 2017

It's long been associated with anger and coarseness but profanity can have another, more positive connotation. Psychologists have learned that people who frequently curse are being more honest. Writing in the journal Social ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.