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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334869

Research Project: Development of Alternative Intervention Technologies for Fresh or Minimally Processed Foods

Location: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research

Title: Plasma agriculture and innovative food cycles

Author
item Hori, Masaru
item Niemira, Brendan

Submitted to: Journal of Physics D
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2017
Publication Date: 7/1/2017
Citation: Hori, M., Niemira, B.A. 2017. Plasma agriculture and innovative food cycles. Journal of Physics D. 50(2017) 323001:1-5.

Interpretive Summary: Contamination of foods with human pathogens is an ongoing challenge for growers and processors of foods. The economic impact of foodborne illness is felt in costs of medical care, lost productivity, and in fatalities, with annual costs in excess of $15.5B in the US alone. Food processing technologies foster an environment that encourages innovation, ensuring food safety and sustainability. Applications of plasma (a type of high-energy ionized gas) in food and agriculture emerged rapidly with the invention of low-temperature atmospheric-pressure plasmas around 2000, dramatically increasing in popularity around 2010. This emerging field of technology - use of low-temperature atmospheric-pressure plasmas – builds on techniques using high-voltage pulsed discharges, which were introduced as possible food treatments in the early 1900s. There is a need for novel, effective post-harvest food safety interventions that will improve the safety of foods while preserving quality, freshness, nutritional value, and consumer appeal. At the same time, there is significant interest in pre-harvest plasma applications to improve the productivity and value of agricultural commodities. Low-temperature plasma produces electrons, ions, radicals and photons with an electrical field, of which a variety of combinations of species and radiation were applied to organisms and food. Their effects on organisms include the promotion of germination, rooting, and growth in plants, inactivation of contaminating microbes, decontamination of foodborne pathogens, and preservation of perishable food products, which are dependent on the plasma duration dose. Plasma agriculture is an innovative field that applies plasma to agriculture processes such as farming, food production, food processing, and food preservation.

Technical Abstract: It is predicted that humankind may face the global issues of a pandemic and food crisis due to the rapid growth of the population, reaching almost 10 billion by 2050. Contamination of foods with human pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and norovirus is an ongoing challenge for growers and processors of foods. The economic impact of foodborne illness is felt in costs of medical care, lost productivity, and in fatalities, with annual costs in excess of $15.5B in the US alone. The most important solution is to develop key emergency technologies to generate a social system that encourages innovation for ensuring food safety and sustainability. Plasma Agriculture emerged rapidly with the invention of low-temperature atmospheric-pressure plasmas, which were introduced to the field of plasma science and applications around 2000 and dramatically increased in popularity around 2010. The use of low-temperature atmospheric-pressure plasmas has produced effects similar to those observed by techniques using high-voltage pulsed discharges, which were introduced as possible food treatments in the early 1900s. There is a need for novel, effective post-harvest food safety interventions that will improve the safety of foods while preserving quality, freshness, nutritional value, and consumer appeal. At the same time, there is significant interest in pre-harvest plasma applications to improve the productivity and value of agricultural commodities. Low-temperature plasma produces electrons, ions, radicals and photons with an electrical field, of which a variety of combinations of species and radiation were applied to organisms and food. Their effects on organisms include the promotion of germination, rooting, and growth in plants, inactivation of contaminating microbes, decontamination of foodborne pathogens, and preservation of perishable food products, which are dependent on the plasma duration dose. Plasma agriculture is an innovative field that applies plasma to agriculture processes such as farming, food production, food processing, and food preservation.