Use of Light Systems to Decontaminate Pork Surface

Microbial security represents an absolute necessity, especially when it comes to meat products. Many different ways exist to decontaminate surfaces in the slaughtering or in the cutting processes: It can be done mechanically through the use of hot water and steam, or chemically through chlorine. However, these methods bring about some critical aspects. The mechanical method alters food quality, the chemical one has to face entry restrictions within the EU and consumer skepticism. Physical processes, for instance treatments by infrared rays or pulsed light make up alternatives. Infrared is used so as to heat the product surface fast and to thermal inactivate pathogenic and product damaging micro-organisms. As for pulsed light, it is primarily used for surface disinfection.  

The implementation of these processes constituted the focal point of a project financed by the Forschungskreis der Ernährungsindustrie e.V. (FEI). This project aims to set up a non-thermal physical surface disinfection without any contact and residue free. The use of this process is especially adapted for parts of pork, in particular for rind and belly.
Several tests will be led in the context of this project in order to validate the process’s reliability and to allow its uncritical implementation in the industry. Some of them are disinfection characterization and shelf life extension in connection with product and process parameters like the setting up of application and planning guidelines for technical plants. Research will take place both at the German institute of food technology (Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V.) and at the institute for food hygiene of the Leipzig University.

If the development turns out to be successful, experts hope the process will not only improve food safety but also lead to a significant increase of the competitiveness of slaughtering and cutting firms.  The research posts involved in the project believe to be coming along nicely to reach their goal.

The IGF project AiF 17877 BG of the Research Association „Forschungskreis der Ernährungsindustrie e.V.“ (FEI), Godesberger Allee 142-148, 53175 Bonn, was funded by the AiF program for promoting the „Industrielle Gemeinschaftsforschung“ (IGF) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.