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Breakthrough Technologies Transforming the Food and Beverage Industry in 2022

Food and Beverages | Sunday, January 23, 2022

FREMONT, CA: The food industry's biggest challenge in future planning is incorporating nascent technology. What game-changing innovations are on the horizon that is now underutilized? The following processing technologies have the potential to significantly improve efficiency and safety: a method for treating water to make it more sanitizing; developments in chemical or electronic methods for assessing odors; equipment for determining the gender of unhatched chicken eggs; and an improvement that increases the efficiency of oil separation.

Plasma activated water

The Holy Grail of cleanliness is water that kills bacteria while rinsing food without altering its flavor or other qualities. Biocide additives for rinse water, such as peracetic acid, are occasionally used on chicken carcasses. Still, they are frequently dangerous to use and handle and are not universally recognized.

A more creative option would be to alter the water's qualities fundamentally. Thus, plasma-activated water (PAW) comes into play.

Plasma treatment entails exposing the air to electricity and introducing it into the water to induce fundamental chemical changes. These include reducing the pH of the water, which makes it more acidic, and creating microorganism-killing chemicals such as ozone, reactive oxygen, and nitrogen. The outcome is water that can boost food safety and lengthen food shelf life while retaining water.

Artificial noses

In the 1990s, "electronic noses" generated considerable interest. Supposedly, they would produce objective, reproducible profiles of odor and flavor at a lower cost and in less time than a panel of trained human tasters. However, things did not quite go as planned.

Initially, field businesses oversold and missold electronic nose technology, and expectations did not match reality. This prompted the majority of them to cease operations.

Different materials and principles have been developed for these sensors, demonstrating advancement. The earliest material was metal oxide, which reacts chemically to diverse substances in a sample; a significant advancement has been the miniaturization and production of these sensors on micro-hot plates made of silicon. This decreases their power usage and facilitates their integration with other electronic gadget components.

Chemical sensors with dyes that change color when exposed to an odor can also be used; this color change can be monitored optically and interpreted by system software. In addition, technological advancements have made it possible to measure different aspects of odor with a single or a small number of sensors, as opposed to the array that most electronic noses have employed.

Whether the purpose of artificial noses is to aid in the formulation of products or for inline inspection is a topic of significant discussion. To discern nuances in fragrance, the former demands a more precise calibration, whereas the latter requires a swift response.

Inline inspection is the "fancier" application, which opens up new quality control vistas. But synthetic testing also has significant potential for product development; it promises consistency and quick results, especially for smaller companies that may have to wait for answers from a remote tasting panel.

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