Germans to help with new food zapping process

Thursday, 05 August, 2010

A collaborative agreement between CSIRO and two German organisations is providing Australian food companies with access to a processing technology which uses low-energy electron beams rather than heat or chemicals to decontaminate food.

The agreement with the Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology and service company EVONTA-Service GmbH aims to further scientific research into ‘low-energy electron beam processing’.

“This is an emerging technology that uses electrons to decontaminate the surfaces of foods like powders and fresh produce,” says CSIRO scientist Dr Kai Knoerzer. “It helps retain foods’ fresh flavour, odour and nutrients, which can be damaged by traditional heat treatment or by applying chemicals.

The first food producer to have benefited from the collaboration is Stahmann Farms, Australia’s largest grower, processor and exporter of pecan nuts and a major processor of macadamias.

The company’s Product Manager, Paul Deeth, said Stahmann Farms approached CSIRO for help to meet strict new food safety guidelines in Europe, the US and Asia.

“We had worked with CSIRO before and we felt they were the only people who could help us to get our product to market safer and fresher by utilising their expertise in innovative processing,” Deeth said.

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