Tests in New South Wales, Australia:

Cold plasma used to kill pathogens on fresh produce

At the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries laboratory, a new test device is being trialled. A German built, custom-made 250 kilogram produce sanitisation machine , dubbed the “Food Safety Supercharger”, has been developed to try to eliminate microbial contaminants such as Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli, which cause foodborne illness outbreaks.

The test-unit creates a stream of ‘ supercharged air’ by applying an electric current to normal air. Using this disruptive technology, it has the capacity to kill microbial pathogens on the surface of fresh produce and nuts without leaving any chemical residues. Other spoilage-causing moulds can also be suppressed, offering a longer shelf-life and reduced food waste.

The lead researcher is Dr Sukhvinder Pal Singh. He told queenslandcountrylife.com how the machine is using non-thermal plasma of only 30 to 40 degrees. That is why the technology can be referred to as ‘cold plasma’.

Hort Innovation fund manager Tim Archibald said the technology has never been commercially used on food. “The Food Safety Supercharger is here, and Australia is on track to introduce some of the most sophisticated sanitation technology in the world.”

The research is due for completion in 2021.

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