The following content originally appeared in March’s issue of Food and Beverage International , which you can subscribe to here.
Leading provider of UV-C disinfection solutions, UV Technology has been researching and optimising the use of UV-C light in the food industry for years. Claire Rowan spoke to Rob Axon to find out more.
What are the challenges to uptake of UV Technology in the food industry (in the EU)?
Differing rules within EU member states have posed challenges but acceptability throughout the EU and Scandinavia is increasing rapidly. UV Technology has also partnered with several European OEMs who have integrated our UV-C solutions into their own offerings.
Are any sectors of the food industry more ready to invest in UV than others?
The freshly prepared fruit sector has seen the greatest uptake. Benefits include reduction in usage of water and chemicals, dry disinfection process. We are also seeing high levels of demand across all food sectors for UV systems for treating goods passing from low risk to high risk areas of the plant.
This is being driven by both retailers and their trade associations such as the British Retail Consortium. Interestingly, in UK retailer Tesco’s Manufacturing Standard, the section relating specifically to the treatment of all inbound materials into a supplier factory identifies UV radiation among the acceptable non-heat treatments for incoming product, ingredients or packaging.
What special abilities does UV Technology offer?
We are the primary innovators of product decontamination tunnels/solutions using UV-C for decontamination of solid products such as fresh fruit, vegetables, bakery etc, whereas, the majority of UV companies specialise in the treatment of water/liquid.
We worked with The National Centre for Food Manufacturing (University of Lincoln) in the early days to increase both awareness and technical acceptance. It took us three years to obtain UK retailer Marks & Spencer Micro Action Group approval before they would put product on shelves. More recently, as the technology has become more accepted, Campden BRI has helped to elevate the status of UV through investment in its own tunnel.
What is the latest development UV Technology is working on for the food or beverage processing industry?
We are continually investing in newer technologies and current research is focused on the use of UVC LED (light emitting diode). This technology is not yet capable of delivering the necessary energy levels we require but it is only a matter of time (five to ten years) before it will be commercially viable.
Our current solutions offer high levels of IP protection and we are currently focused on developing a range of waterproof emitters (IP65).
We also work with other manufacturers of decontamination systems and are currently developing solutions whereby UV-C and these technologies work in a symbiotic manner. This project is particularly focused on the bread sector and incorporates both active air, product and surface decontamination.
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