Bacteria gets a Zap from Purdue’s Cold Plasma

Purdue University researchers have been awarded a $75,000 state grant to further develop cleaning food with cold plasma technology. The process, which works best with cantaloupe and other fruits, could change the way we clean some of our favorite foods. Though the technology is not yet approved for commercial use, Purdue researchers say cold plasma could one day revolutionize the way we treat all kinds of produce. Cold plasma forms when an electrical current is run through certain gases, such as helium, nitrogen or oxygen. The process is similar to what occurs inside neon light or a spark that briefly causes the air around us to turn into ozone. “Those gases undergo transformations and become very reactive,” said Bruce Applegate, Purdue associate professor of food science. “When they’re very reactive, they can kill bacteria very quickly.” Despite advances in food safety and government oversight, bacteria and pathogens are a common problem for food scientists.

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