Campden BRI invests in cold plasma and UV-C tech
The installations, which are worth in excess of £100,000, add to existing HPP, power ultrasound and pulsed light equipment, available to companies that require independent evaluations of the technologies.
The cold plasma system was installed and operational mid-2014 and the UV-C system came online in January this year.
Cold plasma offers potential for the disinfection of surfaces, equipment, packaging, food contact surfaces or food itself and could extend shelf life or allow online disinfection of processing equipment to reduce cross-contamination and biofilms.
Cold plasma and UV-C tech
The technology is still in its infancy compared to UV-C but has potential applications which are being explored with industry partners, said Danny Bayliss, new technology specialist, Campden BRI.
“There are commercial systems which remove odours or decontaminate air that are on the market,” he told FoodQualityNews
“Currently Campden BRI is interested in exploring continual decontamination of food contact surfaces and equipment as well as shelf life extension of food products.”
Campden Bri said it is working with the University of Liverpool on the cold plasma system. Its development was funded through the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account Scheme and the firm has trialled a couple of different systems with the university.
UV-C, which includes UV light with the wavelengths of 254nm, is damaging to microbial cells.
Current industrial applications include the treatment of conveying lines, packaging and containers and surfaces of food such as fruits or vegetables and bakery products.
It is used on juices and apple cider, grains, cheeses, baked goods, frozen products, fresh produce and some drinks manufacturers use it to treat ingredients such as sweeteners, said Bayliss.
“The applications of this technology on food products have recently received renewed interest by manufacturers partly due to improvements in the lamps and systems available for processing these food products,” he said.
“There is also the need to extend shelf life whilst maintain quality and nutritional content of the food products which is causing some companies to revisit UV-C as a potential technology solution.”
The UV-C tunnel was purchased from UV Technologies as part of a relationship to help validate processes.
Meeting specific needs
Bayliss said any company wanting to use the technologies should get in touch with Campden BRI.
“Understanding the challenges companies are trying to overcome and the restrictions they have with their products is important so it is best to talk to an expert to first understand what technologies to focus on,” he said.
“Some companies use a new processing method with new product formulations to get a competitive advantage or explore a new niche, while other companies replace an existing process method to improve product quality while maintaining shelf life.
“Some companies will use new technologies in addition to current processing methods to try to improve shelf life with minimal further impact on product quality.”
Bayliss said non thermal technologies offer the potential to treat food products with a reduced impact on the nutritional quality.
“Companies are looking for technologies to replace or use in addition to current processing methods, which have a reduced effect on the nutritional composition of products whilst still extending shelf life and reducing product waste.”
All of the technologies are available at Campden BRI for confidential trials or further research work through UK government funding schemes from Innovate UK.
Campden BRI also recently invested in an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) from PerkinElmer.
The NexION 350D ICP-MS will quantify levels of heavy metals and other elemental contaminants in food samples.