Ultraviolet Light to Desinfect Vegetables

The Foundation for Auxiliary Technologies for Agriculture (Tecnova)  has been able to reduce crop damage in vegetables such as zucchini and eggplant by 20% to 50% using ultraviolet radiation. 

The technique developed represents in some cases an alternative to cleaning with chlorine, which is often used as a disinfectant. Experts use type C ultraviolet light (UV-C) to disinfect the surface of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as minimally processed fresh products (IV gamma), which are sold after being cut, pealed, washed and packaged so that they are ready to be eaten.

The tests  shown that the energy from UV-C radiation is effective against all types of microorganisms (bacteria, virus and fungi) by causing damage to their DNA and thus stopping their reproduction.

Two of the main causes of damage to zucchini and eggplant are the Botrytis fungus and the Erwinia bacteria. Applying ultraviolet light has reduced initial microflora and as a result cut spoilage by 20% to 50%. Further, ultraviolet radiation increases vegetables’ capacity to produce antioxidants, which are beneficial for human health.

Ultraviolet radiation is environmentally friendly given that it does not generate waste products during the decontamination process, as is the case with bleaches. While this technique is already used for disinfecting water and sterilizing plastic containers, its use in the food sector is new.

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