Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2006
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Modern food processing requires tools to ensure the safety of foods by effectively sanitizing without compromising food quality. This has led to an increased interest in nonthermal processing for meat, poultry and dairy products, produce and beverages. Plasma (an energetic ionized gas) is widely used for industrial materials processing, and has recently shown promise as a sanitizing tool. This is largely due to new technologies which easily produce nonthermal plasmas (NTPs) at normal atmospheric pressure. Originally developed for use on delicate electronics, heat-sensitive medical devices and in biomedical and dental applications, NTP is now being investigated for application to foods and beverages as a sanitizing and/or conditioning step. Several different NTP technologies have been developed, each with different advantages and disadvantages. NTP has been shown to injure and inactivate pathogenic bacteria on inert food contact surfaces, on a variety of foods and in liquids. The antimicrobial efficacy of NTP is related to the specific technology used, the power level used to generate the plasma, the gas mixture used in the plasma emitter and the intensity and length of exposure. An overview of the most mature forms of NTP is presented, with a summary of the published data which is most relevant to the food processing industry. Potential applications of NTP for food sanitization and food contact surface treatment are discussed.