UA researchers design a system for food disinfection using ultraviolet light
Alicante, 16 January 2015
UA researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Food Sciences have developed an art-of-the-state ultraviolet light emitting device to disinfect several types of food, mainly liquids.
The technology developed eliminates biochemical contamination in the production line, either in raw materials or end products in the food industry. For this purpose, radiation is used in the ultraviolet light spectrum, so that the action of non-ionizing electromagnetic waves belonging to particular regions of the ultraviolet spectrum can cause the breakdown of DNA chains of microorganisms.
According to Dr. José Luis Todolí, the person responsible for this research work, physical or chemical treatments are commonly used for the disinfection of food during the manufacturing process. This is the case of foods such as milk or juice using pasteurisation, but chemical treatments can produce harmful by-products that need to be removed, while the use of processes such pasteurisation involves a thermal shock which can affect the organoleptic characteristics of food.
The system can replace widespread processes as pasteurisation for it allows values of disinfection similar to current values where the process is less aggressive and allows food to preserve the organoleptic properties of naturally disinfection. Also, the technology is applicable in surface disinfection of any solid product. As for liquids, this disinfection can be comprehensive, being able to irradiate the entire volume of liquid, Dr. Todolí stated.
On the other hand, it is important to note that ultraviolet radiation is totally safe for consumers and eliminates pathogens quickly and safely. Moreover, the system has significant advantages, including its low cost and its applicability to different production processes, which permits maintaining the original food properties, Dr. Todolí concluded.
The technology has already been implemented in manufacturing companies with a high degree of satisfaction, and the system developed by the UA researchers is available to interested companies, offering counseling and analysis of food food production processes and the development of ad hoc solutions.
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