Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Pathogen inactivating plasma can lead to increased shelf-life

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Pathogen inactivating plasma can lead to increased shelf-life
A research project is developing a novel continuous in-pack decontamination system for fresh fruit and vegetables
In Use – The project is aiming to develop a pre-competitive prototype and validate the technology, with an aim to be commercially viable in 2 years.

Product Waste Reduction, Shelf life extension

Product Categories

Relevant Materials
Plastic – Flexible, Plastic – rigid, Plastics - Other / mixed

Relevant Packaging Formats
Flexible & Films, Other

Supply Chain Phase
Filling, Processing


In comparison to things like milk where pasteurisation and heat can be used, the conventional approach to treat fresh produce has been to wash the produce in a chlorine solution. Now, a €2.4 million EU-funded project is working to develop a technology to help keep fruit and vegetables fresher for longer by inactivating microbes on the food. The project is looking to develop an alternative that uses plasma to treat the produce within the package.

The idea is to simply package food inside any type of plastic packaging, then to pass that package through a dielectric discharge, which is essentially two electrodes of high voltage. This creates a plasma within the bag for a very short period of time, and this in turns makes active species within the bag, which inactivate the bacteria, and then convert after a period back into the original gas.

The goal is to reduce microbial contamination on fresh produce that could ultimately contribute to spoilage, but the project also aims to ensure that the technology does not negatively affect the nutritional properties or the taste of the fruit and vegetables themselves.

Over the course of the 3-year project, a prototype in-pack decontamination system will be designed and built, and its effectiveness for decontaminating fresh bagged lettuce, fruit and vegetables will be optimised and validated in an industrial setting by the project's industry partners.

Known as SafeBag, the EU-funded project is being led by Spain’s IRIS and includes Dublin Institute of Technology’s School of Food Science and Environmental Health, the National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology as well Irish food company Nature’s Best Ltd and other international partners.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

The main benefit of this technology will be improved shelf-life, leading to reduced fresh produce waste in both the supply chain and the home. A move away from chlorine based solutions will also be a benefit.

Intellectual Property

The project consortium has plans in place to protect any significant intellectual property arising during the course of the project.

Consultant View

Readers interested in the objectives of this project are encouraged to look for other entries in REID which have the potential to extend the shelf-life of fresh produce. Try searching REID using search terms such as “fruit and veg”, “preservation”; “sterilisation”, “active packaging” and “antimicrobial”.

Contacts and Further Information

Edurne Gaston, Project Co-ordinator
Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS)
Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia
Avda. Carl Friedrich Gauss nº 11
08860 Castelldefels - Spain
Tel: + 34 93 554 25 00

See the project homepage at


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