SAFEBAG project

Chemical-free decontamination system for fruit and vegetables

Globally, we are witnessing an increase in the number of outbreaks of food-borne illness associated with ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables. The treatments currently used, including chlorine washing, often leave a chemical residue and waste water. There is growing demand to reduce the amount of chemicals used in the process, and this can be achieved through the effective yet environmentally-friendly decontamination system currently being developed by SAFEBAG.

With funding from the FP7 programme, the SAFEBAG team is developing a novel in-pack decontamination system that will enable us to reduce the amount of chemicals used in washing. The system is based on a cold atmospheric plasma, generated inside a sealed package containing the food, which produces highly charged particles (free radicals) to damage or destroy bacteria. Preliminary research has already indicated that this in-pack non-thermal plasma (an energetic ionised gas) can significantly reduce the microbial load of fresh fruits and vegetables.

SAFEBAG is now advancing this knowledge by carrying out further research to maximise potential benefits of this technology. The plasma-based pre-competitive prototype has been built by the team and is ready to be tested by the industry in terms of effectiveness in decontaminating fresh bagged fruits and vegetables.

As the project enters this crucial testing phase, Dr. Edurne Gaston Estanga, Group Leader of Food Technologies at IRIS in Spain and Project Coordinator of SAFEBAG, speaks with research*eu magazine about the innovative elements of the technology and the way forward after industry approval.

Please click here to read the full article from the European Commission.

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