Working closely with members for nearly 30 years, we have carried out practical ‘proof of principle’ evaluations of many different pieces of specialist equipment – through our ‘new technologies’ member funded project.
Here are some recent examples.
Continuous cold plasma – extending shelf life of fresh fruit
Cold plasma generates a rich abundance of highly reactive chemical species which are capable of inactivating a wide range of microorganisms, including food borne pathogens and spoilage organisms.
We demonstrated that plasma treatment was capable of delaying mould growth on strawberries and extending shelf life by up to three days compared with control samples. Our study also showed that when using cold plasma there is a balance between surface damage, log reductions and mould spore stress that impact on the shelf life of the product.
High pressure processing (HPP) – clean label preservation
Novel technologies, such as HPP, could help manufacturers to develop the ‘clean label’ products sought by some consumers.
We’ve shown that HPP can inactivate microorganisms and preserve nutritional and eating quality. The effectiveness of the process is governed by many factors and our lab facility enables us to assess what effect processing changes have on the inactivation of target food pathogens via challenge testing.
Microwave – less energy, enhanced quality
We have an AMT continuous flow microwave heating unit. We are using this rapid heating method to find ways to reduce energy use and enhance product quality. Rapid thermal processing technology which delivers microwave energy directly to the product limits potential fouling due to hot surfaces. We are also exploring this rapid heating to reduce energy and enhance quality.
Pulsed electric field processing – changing the functionality of ingredients
Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) processing is a low temperature, non-thermal, non-chemical process which can induce pores/holes in microbial, animal and plant cells. We looked at the impact of pulsed electric fields (PEF) on potatoes. When cutting the potatoes into chips, for example, prior PEF treatment reduced the cutting force needed and when fried, as chips, the PEF treated potato did not absorb more fat, but did taste sweeter.
Revtech system – pasteurisation of dry particles
Particulate residence time is critical to the safe thermal processing of products, including dry materials. We established a method to measure the residence times of particulates in the Revtech for different process conditions. Motor speed and motor angle have a significant impact on the residence time.
UV tunnel – inactivating viruses
Ultraviolet (UV) light treatment is a non-thermal, nonchemical technology used to inactivate microorganisms. Food borne viruses pose unique challenges to industry due to their reliance on a host for replication and the limited data available on viral inactivation during food processing. Our research shows that UV treatments have potential to reduce levels of viruses in a food (blueberries) and surfaces (stainless steel).
Contact: Danny Bayliss