New surface decontamination method said to increase food shelf-life
The Technical University of Cartagena method is also compatible with organic foods.
April 5, 2016 By Andrew Joseph
A surface decontamination process developed by researchers, and patented by the Technical Institute of Cartagena in Colombia extends the shelf-life of packaged products of fish, meat, salads and minimally-processed fresh fruit.
The procedure is also compatible with organic foods because it utilizes vapors of essential oils.
Used in combination with ultra-clean packaging techniques, the researchers say the procedure can double, or triple the shelf life of ready-to-eat packaged foods.
The applied vapors—can be of rosemary, thyme, orange, or other essential oils—are natural antimicrobial agents that inactivate pathogens such as Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Escherichia coli, and will also destroy spoiling flora such as bacteria, fungi and yeasts.
These vapors can be applied to the food during its modified atmosphere packaging, mixing with the gases when these are applied to the container.
Decontamination with vapors of essential oils is compatible with the packaging of organic products, and it has proven to be effective as an alternative to washing with chlorinated water, which can leave toxic waste materials.
In collaboration with the company Tecselor S.L. (Lorca, Murcia), the researchers have developed the machinery needed to implement this decontamination system at an industrial level.
With this machinery, a large number of trials have been conducted for the treatment of packaged foods with essential oil vapors, and have proven to extend the shelf life of food, especially when combined with ultra-clean packaging.
These tests were carried out at the White Room for Ultra-clean Processing and Packaging that belongs to the Engineering Department of Food and Agricultural Equipment of the Higher Technical School of Agronomic Engineering of the UPCT.
The patented procedure, currently in marketing stage, has been developed thanks to a project of the Centre for Industrial Technological Development and to the collaboration of Tecselor S.L.