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New Process Being Developed to Keep Berries Fresh Longer

Blackberries (USDA)

(U.S. Department of Agriculture)

A new way of improving the shelf life of soft fruit like strawberries and raspberries is being developed by researchers at universities and industry in the U.K. Food scientists at University of Nottingham are teaming with engineers at Loughborough University and British fruit grower Berryworld to test an anti-bacterial process called cold plasma as a technique to keep berries fresh for longer periods of time.

Cold plasma uses ionized gas at room temperatures — 35 to 40 degrees Celsius — to combat bacteria, by breaking through protective biofilms. The technology is used to sterilize wounds and medical instruments. Nottingham microbiologist Cath Rees observes that “Soft fruit is notoriously difficult to keep ‘fur free’ for long, as it bruises easily when handled and becomes contaminated. The cold plasma technology would present a way of eradicating molds early in the packing process.”

While the team’s research is still underway, early results suggest the cold plasma treatment gives the produce an extra five days of shelf-life. This extra period of time could have a significant impact on the economics of soft fruit production.

The research is funded by a grant from the East Midlands Food and Drink iNet, which supports businesses, universities, and individuals in the region’s food and drink industry.

Read more: Industry Funding University Citrus Disease Research

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