No doubt food preservation has played a great role in the availability of food items throughout the year and at all over the country with controlled cost. But still, even with surplus production of food grains in agricultural sector and all supportive government policies (National Food Security Act, 2013), the availability of safe and sufficient food for the majority of masses in the country is a dream to come true. Pasteurisation from the day of its invention in 1881 by the great French chemist and bacteriologist Louis Pasteur has played a great role in food preservation. Pasteurisation is not intended to kill all micro-organisms in the food, instead, this aims to achieve a reduction in the number of viable organisms, reducing their number – so they are unlikely to cause disease – assuming the pasteurised product is refrigerated and consumed before its expiration date.
Plagued by a number of incidents of illnesses, and even deaths, food industry has come under heavy pressure to improve the safety of food products in general and processed food in particular. Therefore, with time a number of advanced food preservation technologies have developed. The desperately needed solution that appears to have the greatest chance of improving this situation is the process of food irradiation, often referred to as electronic pasteurisation. Irradiated foods may be labelled with a number of euphemistic terms used not to alarm consumers by such as cold pasteurisation and electronically pasteurised. Pasteurisation in its basic form or in its advanced form i.e., electronic pasteurisation is playing an important role in food preservation. This technology comes along with many other non-thermal food preservation technologies. Non-thermal techniques include active packaging, ozone treatment, electronic pasteurisation, high- pressure processing, and pulsed electric fields. This article briefly introduces the pasteurisation technology and its advancement to the stage of its form as electronic pasteurisation.
Louis Pasteur invented the process of heating food, milk, wine, etc., to kill most of the micro-organisms in it; distinguished from sterilisation, which involves killing all of them. The process is to expose a food, as milk, cheese, yogurt, beer, or wine to an elevated temperature for a period of time sufficient to destroy certain microorganisms, as those that can produce disease or cause spoilage or undesirable fermentation of food, without radically altering taste or quality.
Pasteurisation has been developed further to make use of electronics treatment of fresh or processed foods that inactivates biological contaminants (insects, molds, parasites, or bacteria), rendering foods safe to consume and extending their storage lifetime. Government agencies, also feeling the pressure, have made it possible to use irradiation to electronically pasteurise food items. In this process, food products are exposed to ionising radiation (e.g., gamma rays, X-rays or accelerated electrons) at levels approved in order to kill the pathogenic organisms, and reduce the number of spoilage organisms that may be present. If food processors begin to implement electronic pasteurisation, the process will require that consumer-ready packages be prepared at the food processing facility.
This is because part of the pasteurisation strategy is to irradiate the package after the package is closed and for the package to remain closed until it reaches the consumer. This eliminates any chance of recontamination in the distribution system once the package is pasteurised.
Electronic irradiation technology is a revolutionary process that uses electricity to generate a beam of energy. When scanned across a food product, the beam of energy helps to eliminate the treat of damaging plant pests like the fruit fly. Electronic pasteurisation is about streams of high-energy electronic particles basically sterilising our food items much as we defanged tuberculosis by pasteurising our milk. No radioactivity. The necessary doses are so small that the food will even taste fresher – because the spoilage bacteria have been killed. Electronic pasteurisation systems and services for the food industry improve food safety, prolong shelf life, and provide disinfestations. The patented electronic pasteurisation process is based on proven, environmentally friendly electron beam technology. Similar to a microwave oven, the electronic pasteurisation system uses electricity as its energy source to pasteurise food after it has been processed and packaged. The technology generates a beam of accelerated electrons which – when scanned across a food product – instantly help in eliminating the threat of harmful food-borne bacteria without compromising a food product’s quality. Innovator of the first electronic pasteurisation system – announced that it would be constructing its third new major electronic pasteurising service center. A key innovation within the facility will be the capability to use e-beam and x-ray scanning systems simultaneously, so as to accommodate differences in product size and shape. Strategic business plan calls for the building of a nationwide servicing network and to install electronic pasteurising technology in-line within the processing plants of major national food processors. Some of the distinct advantages of electronic pasteurisation technology for food preservation are as:
- Today, electronic irradiation is revolutionising the produce section in stores across the country – by increasing the availability and improving the quality of tree-ripened tropical fruits. Electronic irradiation is the way of knowing that the tropical fruit selected has been specially processed for optimal quality
- Electronically irradiated tropical fruits can now be picked at a heightened level of ripeness for improved flavour and sweetness. Electronic irradiation processed fruits taste as fresh and sweet as they do picked off the tree
- Electronic irradiation replaces older technologies such as chemical fumigation or heat treatment. These traditional methods can negatively affect product appearance, flavour or shelf-life
- Major health organizations have all endorsed, approved or supported the safety and benefits of the process
- Fruit treated with electronic pasteurisation technique within guidelines undergoes no change in nutrition, taste or vitamin content
- The treatment process takes place in a few seconds at ambient or refrigerated temperatures and the food is never heated or cooked
- Electronic irradiation process uses only electricity as its energy source. No radioactive materials are ever used, produced or deposited with this process. The process is chemical-free and does not leave any residues
- Although electronic irradiation treated food items may stay fresh longer, they should be handled and stored like any other perishable food
- Backed by almost 50 years of research and hundreds of studies, the process used in electronic irradiation has been researched more thoroughly than canning, freezing or microwaving.