Professor Roger Ruan at the University of Minnesota leads a research project focused on using intense pulsed light technology (IPL) to reduce harmful bacteria and other microorganisms in dry or powdered foods. This experimental IPL non-thermal pasteurization system is a major step towards providing food security as the system was able to reduce bacteria by 99.9% to 99.99999%, depending on the type of dry or powdered food tested.
Even though bacteria and other microorganisms usually do not grow as well in dry or powdered food as opposed to food with more moisture, they can still be present. The risk in unchecked bacterial growth is the potential for foodborne illness. But, IPL can change this through three mechanisms: disrupting bacterial DNA, localized heating to rupture cellular membrane and walls, and pulsating light to damage cellular structures.
Dr. Ruan’s testing has focused on non-fat powdered milk, wheat flour, black pepper, and egg white and whole egg powders. IPL-based technology for non-thermal pasteurization does not yet exist in the food industry, but Dr. Ruan hopes to change that. As he says, “the successful development of the proposed IPL technology would enable the food industry to use a non-thermal process to disinfect food products while maintaining its nutritional and sensory quality.”
To learn more about this exciting research at the University of Minnesota, read more here.