- USDA researches said that cold plasma treatment, otherwise referred to as a “purple blow torch” by food safety scientists, can kill 99.9% of norovirus on blueberries without damaging the fruit, according to Food Safety News.
- Human norovirus is known to be one of the most common etiological agents that contaminates food and causes foodborne illness, and blueberries are very susceptible to contamination by biological hazards from pre-harvest to post-harvest stages.
Researchers also said that cold plasma treatment can extend the shelf life of blueberries by slowing spoilage rates without effecting firmness, color, or anthocyanin concentration.
Cold plasma is known to scientists as the 4th state of matter and is an ideal disinfection tool for manufacturers of low water activity products because it requires no additional liquids.
According to Campden BRI, cold plasma offers a number of potential benefits to the food industry, including equipment disinfection, packaging safeguards and the disinfection of food itself.
The antimicrobial properties of plasma systems make cold plasma an attractive tool for food manufacturers in the fight against cross-contamination, microbiological spoilage and reduced shelf-life. If the process can be commercialized, it could theoretically revolutionize the produce safety industry, benefiting meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables.
A study conducted by Campden BRI noted that before that can happen, more research is needed to study the reactive chemistry of cold plasma in order to understand its true effects on food quality.