Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Innovative microwave treatment prolongs shelf life of foodstuffs by eradicating mould spores

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Innovative microwave treatment prolongs shelf life of foodstuffs by eradicating mould spores
Uniform microwaving of products could significantly extend shelf life thereby reducing food spoilage and subsequent wastage.
In Development – Recently announced following successful development and testing.

Benefits
Product Waste Reduction, Shelf life extension

Product Categories
Drinks, Food

Relevant Materials
Not Applicable

Relevant Packaging Formats
Not Applicable

Supply Chain Phase
Processing

Details

An American company has pioneered a microwave technology which claims to eradicate mould spores in a variety of foodstuffs to prolong shelf life. A particular focus for this technology could be bread.
 
As loaves are usually wrapped in plastic, any water in the bread that evaporates from within is trapped and makes the surface moist. This provides excellent growing conditions for Rhizopus stolonifer, the fungus that leads to mould.  In normal conditions, bread will go mouldy in around 10 days.
 
The new technique will keep the bread mould free for two months by microwaving the product in a very uniform way to eliminate the spores which cause the bread to go mouldy. Key to the success of the new process is a slotted radiator which avoids the hot and cold spots produced in a household microwave. Initial trials suggest that the bread could have a 60 day shelf life.  
 
The technology could also impact bread production in other ways. Bread manufacturers add numerous preservatives to try and fight mould, but then must add extra chemicals to mask the taste of the preservatives. If bakers were able to use the microwave technology, they would be able to avoid these additives.
 
Microzap, who has developed the new process, anticipates that a number of other food groups could benefit from the process and trials have already been carried out on turkey (with a focus on Salmonella) and fruits. The process is non-invasive so products can be treated with no disruption to appearence.
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

It is estimated that 32% of loaves purchased in the UK thrown out as waste when they could be eaten, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). A significantly extended shelf life for this product category would give consumers confidence to consume bread over a longer period, leading to lower food waste in the home. Shelf life extension and food waste reduction benefits could also be a achieved in other sectors.

Intellectual Property

The new process has been developed by and is proprietry to Microzap Inc of the USA.

Consultant View

The initial promotion of this technology has focused on its potential application to the sliced bread category. The manufacturers state that the technique has attracted plenty of interest from bread manufacturers, but acknowledge that the potential client base is worried that it could push up costs in an industry where margins are very tight. There is also concern that consumers might not take to bread that lasts for so long - already bloggers and consumers have begun an active discussion on the Internet about the pros and cons of long-lasting bread.
 
Ultimately, there may be more readily achieveable benefits in other categories, such as poultry, where higher margins and greater food quality risks may justify the investment required.
 
There are many new technologies featuered in REID which aim to extend the shelf life of food products. Try searching the database for other examples using the search term "Shelf life extension". Examples include the use of phases, antimicrobials, barrier packaging solutions, and active and modified atmosphere packaging.

Contacts and Further Information

Don Stull, Chief Executive
MicroZap Inc.
4412 74th St,
Suite B-100
Lubbock, TX 79494
USA
Tel: 001 806.686.4443
Email: dstull@microzap.net
 

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