Zap of life for fragile fruit
Researchers from the U.K. have begun a six-month study into whether cold plasma technology could extend the shelf life of mouldy fruit, but results have been uneven so far, reported Foodmanufacture.co.uk.
The study has been undertaken by Nottingham and Loughborough universities, in conjunction with fruit association Berry World.
Dr Cath Rees from the University of Nottingham School of Biosciences told the website in best-case scenarios the tests have shown 'fabulous results' with shelf life extended up to five days, but early results were still uneven.
"Soft fruit is notoriously difficult to keep ‘fur free’ for long, as it bruises easily when handled and becomes contaminated. Cold plasma technology would present a way of eradicating moulds early in the packing process," she was quoted as saying.
"A lot depends upon the state of the fruit, humidity levels, temperature and storage issues that affect the food surface. All these issues affect the optimal application of the technology.
"Our data is mainly observational right now, and we need to collect more novel food processing and safety data before this technology goes mainstream, and prove that it causes no changes in fruit or leaves residues.”
Doctors already use the technology to remove bacteria from wounds, while the academic team made the chance discovery when using the tiny controllable beams to sterilise surfaces, the story reported.