By Tatiana Koutchma Ph.D., Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Short-wave ultraviolet irradiation (UV-C, 200−280 nm) offers one of the most promising, non-thermal technologies that could provide food processors with a safe, energy-efficient, and cost-effective way to gain an added measure of safety and extended shelf life for their products. This article will discuss pros and cons of the existing UV units and introduce new commercial UV unit that can be used to treat products with low and extra low UV-C light transmission (UVT).
Compared to thermal pasteurization, non-thermal UV-C treatment can provide a better quality product with minimal change of nutritional value and fresh taste. FDA approval of UV-C light emitted by low-pressure mercury lamps at 254 nm as a safe alternative to thermal treatments of juice products, as well as recent engineering developments of continuous flow apparatuses, has led to the growing interest in research and commercialization of UV technology.
UV systems using thin film laminar, annular turbulent and Dean Flow in coiled tubes have been tested for a variety of preservation applications to treat juices, milk, liquid egg products, and sweeteners. Due to the challenge of low UV light penetration in foods and beverages, only a few designs of continuous flow UV apparatus are available for processing various types of liquid products.