Electrifying New Technology for Sanitising Fresh Produce and Nuts

Contamination of fruits, vegetables and nuts can be a significant challenge for the horticulture industry, negatively affecting the ‘clean, green and safe’ reputation, both in the domestic and export markets. Despite the adoption of good on-farm and postharvest practices, microbial contamination can occur in fresh produce, potentially leading to public health concerns. There are opportunities to improve the current use of chemical sanitisers in postharvest decontamination which can be limited in their effectiveness (such as chlorine which leaves behind residues and impacts the environment).

This project, led by NSW Department of Primary Industries, is focusing on the development of a new tool to reduce food safety risks to both consumers and industry. The first phase of the project will assess the use of “Supercharged Air” technology (using cold plasma) to decontaminate fresh horticultural produce and nuts to mitigate the risk of food safety incidents and boost consumer confidence.

The project aims to:

1. Develop cold plasma treatment protocols to achieve food safety and decay control in a range of horticultural products without affecting product quality
2. Design and build a cold plasma treatment prototype to validate laboratory experimental results and to scale up the technology
3. Scale-up and commercialise cold plasma technology by collaborating with technology partners and horticultural industries.