Enriching mushrooms with vitamin D is becoming more and more popular in the UK, as the benefits to health are becoming understood. The enrichment process, approved to be used on the EU market, utilises high-energy pulses of ultraviolet (UV) light which initiate photochemical reactions within treated mushrooms.
JenAct, partner within the Jenton Group of companies, designs and supplies various UV systems for the food industry as well as Pulsed UV Conveyor Systems for use in mushroom packing lines. Using the systems developed by Xenon Corporation in the USA, the machines pulse UV light over mushrooms passing through a conveyor, increasing the nutritional amount of Vitamin D the mushrooms provide.
"We already have several machines operating in the UK," explains Dr Jaromir Bilek, Director at JenAct. "The systems, which are about 3.5 meters long, can be either integrated into an existing packing line or can be added at the beginning of the line."
Operators safety is vital and the systems, made from stainless steel, accommodate number of safety features which ensure continuous protection of operators during the UV treatment. For example, all sets of curtains must all be in place and all access doors within the machine must be closed or the UV system will not operate.
The system delivers the same amount of UV light into each punnet at a rate of three pulses per second, but not all mushrooms are the same so the system can be adjusted for different types and sizes.
According to research, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 10mcg per day. Sun-grown mushrooms contain around 1mcg of vitamin D per 100g, 10% of the RDA, and tunnel-grown mushrooms contain only a small fraction of this amount. According to JenAct, enriching mushrooms with their Pulsed UV Conveyor, produces mushrooms with up to 20mcg per 100g, 200% of the RDA.
Each machine can be customised, designed to meet specific needs, with adjustable guide rails to accommodate any punnet size, with speeds of up to 150 punnets per minute, making it easier to enrich mushrooms with vitamin D on any packing line.