Illinois Tech Food Scientists Pioneer New Food Safety Techniques

Pulsed-Light Processing Inactivates Microorganisms While Boosting Nutrition in Some Foods



By Olivia Dimmer

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Illinois Tech Food Scientists Pioneer New Food Safety Techniques


We use a technology called pulsed-light processing for inactivating microorganisms in various food products. This is a broad-spectrum light with wavelength range ranging from 100 to 1,100 nanometers. It has UV light, visible light, and a portion of infrared light.

This is very powerful, so the energy of each of the pulses is very, very high. It is sufficient for inactivating different microorganisms, and the pulsed-light technology can also be used for enhancing vitamin D content in some of the food products. For example, if we treat white button mushrooms with pulsed light for just one second we can increase the vitamin D2 content by more than 700 percent just with one second.

For some of the food products it works really great, and this technology can also be used for reducing allergenicity in food products. We can also use it for inactivating toxins in the food products. Pulsed-light technology has been proved to be very effective in inactivating microorganisms.

Within our lab we are working on inactivation of different microorganisms like salmonella, E. coli, or listeria from various surfaces of fruits and also fruit juices and other kinds of food products. But we want to better understand how this inactivation actually takes place so that we can better optimize the technology for improved inactivation, the effect of these factors. Those are going to be really crucial for successful commercialization of this particular technology.