The increase in demand for fresh or minimally processed fruits and vegetables and the increase of associated spoilage and foodborne illness outbreaks demonstrate the difficult challenges facing the growers and packers. Minimally processed fruits and vegetables are subjected to process stresses that make them more susceptible to physiological and microbial deterioration. The shelf life of these products rarely exceeds 14 days even with refrigeration.
For industry adoption, these points must be addressed in developing a produce disinfection system:
- preserve the fresh qualities of the produce
- avoid unacceptable levels of toxic residues and unwanted byproducts on produce
- maintain the nutritional quality of the food
- reduce the risk of foodborne infections while decreasing microbial spoilage
To address these needs APP is developing the Atmospheric Plasma Produce Disinfection System (APDDS), an in-line atmospheric plasma disinfection system that will operate continuously to treat fresh produce. The APPDS will reduce the risk of foodborne infections by neutralizing pathogens, while decreasing microbial spoilage, preserving the organoleptic properties and nutritional quality of the produce. The proposed development will leverage several years of R&D concerning the application of atmospheric plasma to the destruction of infectious agents. We believe the APPDS can be incorporated into a processing line, in a cost effective manner without creating safety hazards for workers.