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Technologies That Help Enhance Food Safety

Kevin Lobo, FB Tech Review | Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The food processing industry uses new technologies to improve food safety and reduce foodborne illnesses. 

FREMONT, CA: Recent high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness related to ready-to-eat (RTE) foods and peanut butter contamination by an uncommon Salmonella strain have revived collaborative efforts by industry regulators and researchers to enhance food safety strategies and technologies for successfully implementing throughout the food supply chain.

The advancement of microbial intervention technologies that decrease, control, or eliminate foodborne pathogens from food products and contact surfaces is one of the essential elements of developing this farm-to-fork food safety framework. As the food safety stakeholders understand, there is no "silver bullet" technology that can remove contaminants from the food chain. However, in the past few years, significant progress has been made in enhancing existing intervention methods and identifying innovative microbial inactivation technologies.

Intervention technologies like thermal, non-thermal, or chemical, are developed to provide a microbiological population with substantial inactivation or inhibition can be used as a crucial step to boost or ensure food safety. FSIT performs essential and applied research in food chemistry, food microbiology, food irradiation, food technology, and engineering to support regulatory needs and enhance the safety of meat, poultry, fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and juices while maintaining the required quality attributes.

Many of the current FSIT research investigations into the efficiency of food safety intervention technologies demonstrate the new potential for applying and developing non-thermal and innovative thermal processes in food processing facilities. Here are some of the tools that are highly useful for the food processor to improve food safety.

Hot Intervention Technology

Food manufacturers have traditionally used thermal processing technology in or on food products to inactivate or decrease microbial populations. The 'heat and destroy' sterilization systems use methods like high-temperature, short-time pasteurization, and ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing developed to process liquid foods and retorting canning for processed solid foods.

Microwave and Radio Frequency Electric Field (RFEF) Processing. 

Electromagnetic waves of specific frequencies to produce heat in a material are referred to as microwave and radiofrequency electric field heating. Microwave and radiofrequency heating for pasteurization and sterilization might be beneficial for traditional heating processes. In microwave processing, it takes less time to increase the necessary process temperature, especially for solid and semi-solid foods.

Ohmic Heating.

Ohmic heating is an innovative thermal processing system through which electrical currents are transmitted through foods to raise the temperature for either cooking or sterilization rapidly. Its key benefit is its capability to heat liquid products containing large particles quickly and consistently, like soups, stews, canned fruit in syrup, liquid egg, and juice products.

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