Researchers, regulators and food industry itself have started renewed collaborative efforts after the recent foodborne illness outbreaks associated with RTE (ready-to-eat) foods, especially the fresh-cut products and the case of contaminated peanut butter by a rare strain of Salmonella. These efforts are directed to improve food safety tools and strategies that can be applied successfully throughout the supply chain. One of the most important components of this entire food safety framework is the development of microbial intervention technologies in order to reduce or eliminate foodborne pathogens from contact surfaces and food products.
The food safety stakeholders actually know that there’s no such technology that will completely eliminate pathogens from the food supply. But, significant advances have been made in the past several years to improve the existing food safety tools and developing new strategies to inactive the microbial growth. The experts have paid keen attention to combining multiple intervention technologies to eliminate pathogens from foods. It is called as hurdle approach and such successful hybrid technologies promise at least a silver lining in the industry’s food safety arsenal.
Technological advancements play a vital role in the food industry. We’re continually seeking knowledge regarding foodborne microorganisms and the ways to care for our food supply. Now, preserving the food is much possible and catering firms are now capable of reducing the ratio of wastage. Here, in this article, I’m going to discuss 6 latest standout technologies helping in food safety.
It is the emerging technology when it comes to the food safety. It can be used to protect the food products against food-related microbes and increase the shelf life. Still, researchers are in process of learning how to use the LED lights, ultraviolet and pulsed light to eradicate bacteria for the food beverages such as milk and fruit juices. Scientists are also studying the process of determining the degree to which these light-waves will penetrate the foods to ensure food safety. Currently, light-based technologies will help in breaking down foodborne pathogens on the surface. But, the penetration depth issue is still unresolved. Food handling experts want to make sure that every part of a food product is hit with light. After the complete development of the light-based technology, it would be a cost-effective method to remove poisonous substances from the food products without compromising on the quality of food.
3D Printed Sensors
The researchers at Taiwan National Chiao Tung and the University of California, Berkeley are working on the use of additive manufacturing to guard food products. They have come up with the creation of a smart cap that notifies the freshness of the food items. These caps are designed with wireless sensors and electronic circuits that can connect with a smartphone to inform about the freshness of food. This technology is still in the process of development, so it may take some time to appear on the store shelves. With the help of 3D printed sensor technology, the workers and customers can scan a product label to determine whether it is fresh or not.
Ultra Sonic Spray Nozzle System
Spraying foods, especially RTE (ready-to-eat) delicatessen meat with antimicrobials to avoid foodborne illnesses is quite an old method. There are dozens of antimicrobials permitted by FSIS to be sprayed on RTE foods. However, Sono-Tek Corporation’s VP Joseph Riemer believes on the precise spray dosage and say covering is also essential to keep foods effective for longer period of time. If you want to achieve improved precision, you can go for an ultra sonic spray nozzle system. It has the ability to use 50000 electronic signals/second to get rid of the pressure and develop a tighter consistency in droplet size.
High HPP, also called as high hydrostatic pressure processing was first commercialized in way back 1990s. Till then, the method is being effectively applied to dormant microorganisms in heat-sensitive food products such as jellies, jams, guacamole, applesauce and tomato salsas. This method has also been applied to lamb, cooked meat products, and seafood for example oysters. On the basis of fast commercialization and rising scientific confirmations, HPP becomes a great substitute technology for in-package pasteurization in order to stop post-process contamination.
When it comes to the automated high HPP system, it starts by putting a flexibly-packaged product into a handling basket, which is then set within the vessel that puts a uniform hydrostatic pressure of 80000 to 130000 psi to both pre-packaged and post-packaged food items. An average food product is pressurized for 2 to 5 minutes. Afterward, the products are taken out of the compartment and stored in the cold rooms or dispersed accordingly.
This process helps to deactivate most vegetative microbes that have the ability to grow in usual storage conditions. A lot of studies have proved that pH and water activity are known to be the major factors in the deactivation of microbes with HPP. This process is highly effective when you apply it to highly acidic foods in order to extend the shelve life or enhance food safety. High hydrostatic pressure processing can increase the shelve life of the products by threefold where you can’t use thermal treatment because of texture, flavor or color changes.
In fact, industrial microwave sterilization and pasteurization procedures have been used for years, but cost-effective radio frequency heating systems for sterilization and pasteurization of food products hasn’t been fully commercialized. Way back in 2011, the food and Drug Administration approved a new sterilization method that uses megahertz microwave energy. This process is called as MATS (microwave-assisted thermal sterilization). By using this technology, food handlers used to dip packaged-food in pressurized hot water and then heating it further with microwaves at 915 megahertz of frequency. It is a method to eliminate food microbes and spoils them in nearly 7 minutes.
High-intensity PEFs (pulsed electric fields) is a process that has already been implemented in the United States. It is used to pasteurize juice products, milk, yogurt and salsa on the commercial basis. But, a major drawback to using this technology is that; it requires aseptic filling and covering. To triumph over this challenge, a Switzerland-based company is looking to corroborate the effectiveness of its in-bottle pasteurization method which coalesces high-intensity pulsed electric fields and microwave heating. With the help of these combined technologies, sealed and filled bottles are heated fast by microwaves and then exposed to high-intensity pulse electric fields. In order to confirm the positive results, the corporation has also conducted several studies that use a variety of microbes in acidic beverages.
Now comes another technology used in maintaining the safety of food products; ultraviolet light. The UV light is used to treat water used for food and beverage formulation, drinking water, waste water and wash water, for treating contact surfaces and decontaminating the air in food factories. According to the FDA, the UV light is a safe option as compared to the thermal treatments used to treat beverages. The latest developments have also led to an increased interest in research and commercialization of ultraviolet technology. In spite of the challenges faced in low ultraviolet penetration, a couple of continuous-flow ultraviolet apparatus designs have recently been developed to process different fluid types. When you compare the general quality of UV-treated product, they’re superior than thermally treated or untreated products.