Keeping it clean with agri-tech innovation

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Keeping it clean with agri-tech innovation

NEW innovations which could sustain the lifespan of potatoes, improve seed quality and reduce contamination risks in processing are to be discussed for the first time at the Agri-TechE Explore virtual meeting “Keeping it clean with agri-tech innovation” 19th January 2021. 

Activated air, electrolysed water, free radicals all provide alternatives to chemistry for sustaining the life span of vegetables and Dr Belinda Clarke (pictured), Director of Agri-TechE, says hygiene is a key concern at the moment: “The use of water and chemicals for cleaning and decontamination is a major cost to the food industry at every stage from seed to sandwich; it is also an environmental cost. Within our innovation ecosystem we can see interesting alternatives emerging that work with natural processes to reduce the power of pathogens, offering a more effective and sustainable approach.” 
 
Speaker Debbie Rees of NRI, explains that unprocessed vegetables and root crops are essentially alive, her focus is reducing the amount of fresh produce that is wasted between field, supermarket and home: 
 
“We are interested in anything that allows us to monitor and sustain the lifespan of fresh produce without harming it. Loss comes from biological changes and these can be measured, for example, the respiration rate of potatoes in storage," she said, adding: "Chlorophyll fluorescence is another useful measure that can be used to understand ripening as vegetables lose their chlorophyll as they age.”
 
Another is the use of ozone, a very reactive chemical that can destroy viruses, as well as unicellular organisms such as bacteria, and then revert to oxygen. 
 
David Goosey of Ozo Innovations is focused on the Food-to-Go market – ready meals and pre-packed sandwiches – where processing equipment needs cleaning and decontamination from allergens such as nuts, as they switch between recipes. 
 
He said: “Hygiene accounts for up to 12% of the cost of food processing. Typically, food manufacturers use hot water at 40-60°C to sanitise equipment and then need to re-chill the environment before use. Our solution uses cold water and is effective at an ambient temperature, meaning Ozo can help to cut both energy usage and costs.”
 
The company’s technology uses hypochlorite, created by electrolysing a saline solution. It is an effective cleaner and disinfectant that reverts back to salt and water after use. It is currently being trialled with a major UK food manufacturer and David will share more about its capabilities at the event.
 
The Agri-TechE event will also see the announcement of a new additive free approach to seed sterilisation which uses ‘activated air’ to destroy bacteria and fungi. 
 
The agri-tech event is being held virtually on Tuesday, January 19th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm. Visit our events page here for more details.

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