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UK researchers develop plasma technology to sterilize food

FBR Staff Writer Published 11 February 2013

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have developed a new prototype plasma technology that can generate ozone to kill pathogens in packaged food, while extending the shelf life of products.

The researchers, Declan Diver and Hugh Potts, stated that the system uses a retractable device that is held against the surface of plastic or glass packaging to generate plasma in order to convert oxygen molecules (O2) inside the packaging into ozone (O3).

Ozone will return to its original state after a couple of hours until then fungi or bacteria on the packaging content will be destroyed.

The technology is claimed to preserve the taste of the food and extend the shelf life of products such as bread by at least one day and also reduces pathogens such as campylobacter, pseudomonas, and E.coli.

Scientists are seeking for development partners to help commercialise the new technology through Glasgow University spin-out company Anacail.

Anacail chief executive Ian Muirhead said that the technology require change in the current packaging of food products. It is easy to use and does not require any chemical additives as the sterilisation is caused by oxygen in the package.

"Although we're initially concentrating on offering Anacail products to the food industry, the process could be equally useful in for the sterilisation of medical and dental equipment and perhaps even for use in the home."

Last year, Edinburgh scientists have developed a new method of extending the shelf life of food using microwave technology.