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Germans To Help With New Food Zapping Process

Electron beam technology uses electrons rather than heat or chemicals to decontaminate food surfaces, such as pecan nuts.
by Staff Writers
Victoria, Australia (SPX) Aug 19, 2010
A collaborative agreement between CSIRO and two German organisations is providing Australian food companies with access to a new processing technology which uses low-energy electron beams rather than heat or chemicals to decontaminate food.

The agreement - with the internationally respected Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology and service company, EVONTA-Service GmbH - aims to further scientific research into 'low-energy electron beam processing'.

"This is an emerging technology that uses electrons to decontaminate the surfaces of foods like powders and fresh produce,: says CSIRO scientist, Dr Kai Knoerzer.

"It helps retain foods' fresh flavour, odour and nutrients, which can be damaged by traditional heat treatment or by applying chemicals.

"As a result of this international partnership, CSIRO will lead the development and application of low-energy electron beam processing in the Australian food industry.

"Through CSIRO, industry can access this technology, which presents some very exciting opportunities. The collaboration is an important one for scientific research in Australia and we look forward to commercial outcomes for more food companies."

The first food producer to have benefitted from the collaboration is Stahmann Farms, Australia's largest grower, processor and exporter of pecan nuts and a major processor of macadamias.

The company's Product Manager, Paul Deeth, said Stahmann Farms approached CSIRO for help to meet strict new food safety guidelines in Europe, the US and Asia.

"We had worked with CSIRO before and we felt they were the only people who could help us to get our product to market safer and fresher by utilising their expertise in innovative processing," Mr Deeth said.

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