UV treatments for the reduction of the microbial load
The technology of pulsed UV light allows the surface treatment of solid food products, or bulk treatment of liquid products, in order to reduce the microbial load. It is, therefore, a process of stabilization aimed at prolonging the preservation of fresh food or subject to packaging, or to improve the shelf life of processed products (“V gamma”). May also constitute one stage for the treatment of liquid waste.
Treatment plants of fresh food or “IV gamma” and “V gamma” products.
Principle of operation
The technique works through the administration of electromagnetic energy in the form of pulsed UV radiation. The pulsation reduces the thermal effect and the energy consumption. The microorganisms are inerted by the UV field with an efficiency that depends on the characteristics of the field itself and the medium in which they are located. The treatments can be directed to the surface of foods, or penetrate deep for products transparent to radiation.
The know-how of ProdAl includes the theoretical knowledge of the process, the availability of predictive models and previous studies on certain micro-organisms and products, and the development of a cell on laboratory scale for the testing of different food products. It is in the testing phase the coupling of this technique with other synergic processes (such as ozonation in liquid or gaseous phase).
Were identified vegetable and animal products for which the technique can be reasonably proposal.
Technological benchmark vs state of the art
In Europe there is a good theoretical knowledge and the operation of some packaging plants, primarily for meat packaging. The use for the treatment of drinking water and other beverages is already relatively widespread. However, there aren't worldwide in-depth studies on the treatment of fresh vegetables or “IV gamma” products, as well as more advanced processing products. The key feature of the technology is the absence of contact of the product with the energy source as well as the possibility to act also through a transparent window of a closed circuit. In this context, it is now of particular interest the development of stabilized products (presumably for the circuit of refrigerated foods) which present a good shelf life and the absence of traces of chemical compounds and unwanted thermal effects. Significant advantages over thermal treatments or more complex physical treatments have already emerged and the ability to apply this technology also to products of low added value.
- Effect of microbiological stabilization without contact with chemicals and through modest or non-existent heating.
- Simplicity of the process (UV generator and lamps).
- Ease of control and regulation of the process.
- Easy integration with other synergistic techniques.
- Limited cost of the process and consequent applicability to products of not so high added value.
- Limited action to the surface of solid products or transparent liquids.
- No achievement of the sterilization conditions.
- Achievement of pasteurization conditions more or less thrust.
- Efficacy on solid products linked to the morphology of the surface.
Stage of development of ProdAl
The technology is at the stage of pre-competitive development. The prototyping and the subsequent industry technology transfer requires time and modest investments for the simplicity of the technology.
ProdAl has developed its know-how on the mechanism of microbial stabilization and conducted experimental work on the application to certain commodity sectors (in the next figure is shown in orange the stage of development of ProdAl research in this technology).
It is, therefore, able to offer assistance in the development of new products and the determination of optimum operating conditions also through experimentation.
Of particular interest is the search for synergies between the UV treatments and other mild technologies of microbiological stabilization for "IV gamma" and "V gamma" products.
Companies of fruit and vegetable sector, canning, pharmaceutical and medical field.
Forms of collaboration
- Agreements for the prototyping and the market launch of new products UV treated, with a view to partnership in the sale.
- Consulting for the evaluation of the quality and shelf life of new products as function of treatment conditions.
- Consultations on the industrial exploitation of the technology with impact on research activities.