Researchers from Penn State University are using a light-based food sanitization technique to inactivate harmful pathogens in the food processing industry.

The technique, according to researchers, delivers pulsed light technology to sanitize food instead of the commonly used chemical, heat and water-based antimicrobial technologies, thereby preventing food contamination.

By delivering targeted pulses of broad spectrum light, the researchers discovered that the technology produced a germicidal response in Salmonella Typhimurium, E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, Aspergillus niger spores and Penicillium roqueforti spores.

According to the researchers, the targeted pulses of broad spectrum light are delivered via food conveyor, wherein the light pulses are applied to the food product as it passes by along the conveyor. Due to the delivery of the higher intensity pulses of light, greater microbial reduction is reportedly achieved in a shorter period of time than conventional ultraviolet (UV) light treatment, the researchers explained.

The study, Characterization of pulsed light for microbial inactivation, appears in the Journal of Food Engineering.

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