Every year millions of tonnes of food are thrown away due to spoilage caused by microorganisms such as moulds or yeasts, while food pathogens are linked with half a million cases of food poisoning annually in the UK alone. A new collaboration is helping to remove these threats using space plasma knowhow.
University of Glasgow spin-out, Anacail Ltd has developed a cold plasma device that uses a single external electrode structure to generate ozone – a powerful biocidal agent - inside sealed food packages. The ozone circulates within the sealed package, destroying microorganisms on the food surface that could otherwise cause disease or spoilage, without damaging or opening the package. The process can add several days to the shelf-life of packaged food, and unused ozone within the package rapidly decays back to oxygen, leaving no residue and flavour unchanged.
The electrode assembly that is key to Anacail’s novel device was originally developed to study low-temperature plasmas in the solar photosphere, however it soon became clear that the ability to generate ozone remotely could have a range of important applications for Earth, as well as space and planetary science.
Anacail have now signed a UK-exclusive deal with Berry Gardens, the UK’s leading soft and stone fruit production group, to use their game-changing technology to sterilise packages of berries, cherries, and plums.
The CEO of Berry Gardens, Jacqui Green said: “This technology is game-changing in our industry, using ozone, a proven sterilant, to reduce the presence of yeasts and moulds. This means extended shelf life, reduced waste and a better product for our consumer.”
Anacail’s CEO, Ian Muirhead adds “We are delighted to sign this collaboration with Berry Gardens, a major player and leading innovator in their sector. It is a major milestone for Anacail in bringing this revolutionary technology to market.”