Ensuring microbial safety of frozen foods with pulsed light
Bonduelle North America, a processor of frozen and canned vegetables in Canada, is considering how best to apply pulsed light technology during a final stage of processing, to ensure its frozen vegetables are Listeria-free. Listeria can cause foodborne illnesses and is a priority pathogen in the processed frozen vegetable sector. The project is part of the Canadian Food Innovators (CFI-ICA) research cluster, ‘Using science and innovation to strengthen Canada’s value-added food industry’.
Bonduelle is working with food technology centre Cintech Agroalimentaire in St Hyacinthe to determine how well the process would work on Listeria and how to best optimise and scale the technology for a food processing environment. Researchers are experimenting with different exposure times and energy levels using various application processes to find the optimal set-up for peas, corn, green beans and sliced carrots.
Louis Falardeau, R&D Director with Bonduelle, emphasised the importance of developing new tools to ensure food safety. “Our goal is an additional hurdle for any potential pathogens before going to market. Even though the potential for contamination is already very limited at this point, this is an extra tool in addition to those we are already using,” Falardeau said.
Alongside food safety, the technology could improve market access for frozen vegetables by reducing the need for costly, time-consuming testing. The technology could also reduce food waste by decreasing the amount of rejected product, which ends up in landfills.
“This project is an excellent example of the food processing innovation we can foster in Canada when we harness the strength of our food technology centres and bring them into collaboration with industry partners,” said Joe Lake, CFI-ICA Chair and Director of Innovation & Research at McCain Foods Limited.
The research is part of funding previously announced by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, of up to $4.6 million to the Food and Beverage Cluster through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Program.
“Canadians and consumers around the world trust Canada’s high-quality agricultural products. This initiative will help ensure Canadian processors are at the forefront of innovation, while keeping their industry competitive and strong,” Minister Bibeau said.
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