New technology kills bacteria in packaged foods

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Posted: Aug 03, 2009 6:35 AM PDT

Like many people who have suffered from food poisoning, Pat Cantwell remembers the incident well. "Probably 4-5 hours where I became very ill"

It's estimated that 76 million cases of food poisoning occur each year and giving food a quick rinse isn't always enough.

Now, food processing engineers at Purdue University have a new way to eliminate harmful bacteria in packaged foods like spinach and tomatoes. It has the potential to kill the bacteria without any type of further changing the product and without chemical residues.

The technology used a set of coils that generate 15,000 volts of electricity and are placed on the outside of a sealed food package. The high voltage knocks apart oxygen and nitrogen molecules inside the package, forming ozone which kills bacteria like E.coli and salmonella.

Using less energy than a light bulb, the technology treats packaged food and gives it a longer shelf-life. That's because the process also kills bacteria that causes spoilage, so the food can literally be treated to allow it to last longer in the refrigerator.





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