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How is UV Sterilization Used in the Food and Beverage Industry?

Food and Beverages | Thursday, October 21, 2021

While UV radiation has its drawbacks, new technical developments have increased its usage in food sterilization. This is likely to increase soon as manufacturers fight to be the safest and cleanest.

FREMONT, CA: Microorganisms cause the majority of food loss in today's food and beverage industry.

However, pathogenic microorganisms cause food spoilage and contamination due to their growth and activity. This type of damage costs the food and beverage industry money, harms its reputation and may result in legal action.

However, why are the majority of food corporations unable to develop a solution?

Adhering to stringent food safety and quality rules, such as those promulgated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), is almost certainly an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Five steps comprise the FSMA safety plan:

- Analyzes of danger

- Preventative measures

- Control of preventive measures

- Supply chain management program

- Recall strategy

Nonetheless, ultraviolet (UV) sterilization has developed into one of the safest and cost-effective methods of eradicating germs like bacteria and mold. While UV sterilization has found applications in various industries, this essay will focus only on the food and beverage business.

The ultraviolet (UV) sterilization in the food business refers to ultraviolet energy to improve food safety and shelf life by slowing microbial development and preventing pathogenic microbe activity. Food irradiation is another name for it, and however, sterilization adds no radiation to its subjects.

The application of UV rays in the food and beverage industry

Although UV rays are an effective technique of destroying bacteria, it is not recommended to irradiate food produce or finished products directly since this might result in discoloration and the formation of off-flavors. As a result, UV sterilization applications in the food and beverage industry are classified into the following categories:

Surface disinfection: This includes sterilizing all surfaces that come into contact with food goods. This includes containers, wrappers, bottle tops, and conveyor belts. Surface disinfection is especially beneficial in meat processing plants. UV light is utilized to disinfect conveyor belts continually in this application using a waterproof module that guarantees the belt is exposed to UV light as it passes.

The GUV radiation inactivates bacteria on the conveyor belt's surface. This treatment has been shown to dramatically save water and energy expenditures by eliminating the requirement for many thorough washdowns during processing.

Numerous other applications fall within this category. One application is in the dairy sector, which sterilizes packing materials for fresh milk products such as yogurt.

Air disinfection: UV radiation is also beneficial for disinfecting the food preparation area. Most food and beverage manufacturers use a system for sensitive foodstuffs that combines a filter barrier that prevents air from reaching food products and UV radiation that kills any remaining microorganisms. 

UV rays also have applications in the fruit and vegetable industry. UV-treated air is frequently blown through the peeling unit to produce high-quality mechanically peeled fruits and vegetables.

Liquids disinfection: This is one of the most often used UV sterilization applications. UVC rays are frequently utilized in water treatment plants to kill a wide variety of bacteria. Similarly, mixing UVC with ozone results in considerable water oxidation, hence reducing its organic content dramatically.

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