FDSN Seminar Series: Capabilities of Ultraviolet Light Technologies for Food and Grain Processing


Tatiana Koutchma

The Department of Food Science and Nutrition will host Tatiana Koutchma, who leads research in novel processing and food safety engineering at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Guelph Research and Development Centre, for a seminar titled “Capabilities of Ultraviolet Light Technologies for Food and Grain Processing” on Thursday, February 9, beginning at 12:45 p.m. The virtual seminar will take place on Zoom. 


Application of ultraviolet (UV) light technology for food, beverages, and grain have been based on employing pulsed and continuous light sources, which are characterized by a polychromatic or monochromatic emission in germicidal UVC range (200 -280 nanometers). Conventional continuous mercury lamps and xenon-pulsed lamps were mostly explored and commercialized for improving safety or extending shelf life of foods in a variety of operations in food and beverages processing.  Due to the fact that UVC lamps at 253.7 nm contain glass and mercury and can cause acute damage to skin and eyes, there are a number of new developments of novel UVC sources that can be an alternative to conventional UVC systems for disinfection of air, surfaces, and foods. Recent research has demonstrated that far UVC radiation at 222 nm emitted by KrCl* excimer lamps has minimal potential to damage skin and eye tissues with similar antimicrobial efficacy to wavelength at 253.7 nm. Over the last three to five years, other new UVC light sources such as UVC light-emitting diodes (LEDs), novel pulsed-light lamps, and UVC-based advanced oxidation process (AOP) have been developed; new applications have emerged, including controlling contamination of food surfaces and beverages, sanitation of processing, and storage facilities and transportation. The efficacy of UVC LEDs at 255, 265, and 277 nm were studied against pathogenic organisms in beverages with low UVC transmittance and to reduce microbial contamination of fresh produce. Also, efficacy of a novel pulsed electron lamp was tested in comparison with continuous UVC sources for bacterial inactivation and mycotoxins destruction on grain. The goal of this presentation is to provide an update of the current state of development of monochromatic and polychromatic UVC light sources (conventional and emerging), knowledge of their efficiency related to the application for disinfection of surfaces and liquids, mechanisms of action, and safety concerns related to UVC radiation. The results of the testing of these novel technologies to inactivate microorganisms, destroy mycotoxins, and the effects on quality and nutrients parameter of foods and beverages will be presented. Future prospects and research needs related to novel UV sources and their potential applications in food industry will be also discussed.


Tatiana Koutchma leads research in novel processing and food safety engineering at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Guelph Research and Development Centre. Previously, she has worked as a research associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Technology in Chicago. Koutchma’s activity focuses on the application of novel processing technologies to enhance microbial safety and the functionality of foods and feed and addresses issues of chemical safety including regulatory approvals, validation, and technology transfer. Koutchma initiates, directs, and performs integrated fundamental and applied research, interacts extensively with international government agencies, and collaborates with industry and academia partners. Koutchma is an active promoter of novel food processing and science-based regulations to professional community.  She is an associate editor of the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Journal of Food Process Engineering, and Food Science and Technology International. She has served on the board of directors of the Ontario Food Protection Association, the National Advisory Committee of Food Processing Council HR of Canada, the Process Innovation Advisory Board of PepsiCo, the Global Harmonization Initiative as a Canadian Ambassador, and as a leader of Emerging Technologies Group. She is a co-founder and co-chair of UV for Food Working Group of International UV Association. Koutchma is a past chair of Nonthermal Processing Division of Institute of Food Technologies (IFT), a member of IFT leadership committee, and a former lead in food engineering track of Annual Meeting Scientific Program Advisory Panel. She authored or co-authored eight books, 14 book chapters, and more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed and trade journals.

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