Dr. Ruan in lab.

MN Impact: Researchers Use IPL Technology to Reduce Harmful Bacteria in Food

September 11, 2018

Objective

Research will increase the number of viable technologies to improve food safety.

Issue

The number of foodborne disease outbreaks in dry and powdered food has been increasing in the U.S. and led to major food recalls.

What has been done

Roger Ruan and his team are developing intense pulsed light (IPL) technology to reduce harmful bacteria and other microorganisms in dry or powdered foods, including non-fat powdered milk, wheat flour, black pepper, and egg white and whole egg powders. They have designed and fabricated a small lab scale system for testing the IPL process in terms of microbial inactivation and physical, chemical and sensory changes under different conditions.

Results

The initial experiments show the IPL process is able to reduce bacteria by 99.9-to-99.99999 percent in 20-to-30 seconds depending on the dry or powered food tested.

Successful development of IPL technology would enable the food industry to use a non-thermal process to disinfect food products while maintaining its nutritional and sensory quality.