Agreement brings food-zapping technology to Australia

CSIRO and two German organisations have agreed to provide Australian food companies with access to a processing technology which uses low-energy electron beams rather than heat or chemicals to decontaminate food.

The agreement – with Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology and service company, EVONTA-Service GmbH – aims to further scientific research into ‘low-energy electron beam processing’.

“This is an emerging technology that uses electrons to decontaminate the surfaces of foods like powders and fresh produce,” CSIRO scientist, Dr Kai Knoerzer, said. “It helps retain foods’ fresh flavour, odour and nutrients, which can be damaged by traditional heat treatment or by applying chemicals.”

The first food producer to have benefitted from the collaboration is Stahmann Farms, a grower, processor and exporter of pecan nuts and a major processor of macadamias.

The company’s product manager Paul Deeth said Stahmann Farms approached CSIRO for help to meet strict new food safety guidelines in Europe, the US and Asia.

“We had worked with CSIRO before and we felt they were the only people who could help us to get our product to market safer and fresher by utilising their expertise in innovative processing,” Deeth said.

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