Applied Nonthermal Technology Lab

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The epidemiology of foodborne diseases has evolved in recent decades as new pathogens have emerged, the food supply has grown more complex, and our relationship with food has changed. The global economy’s size and complexity, coupled with the rapid changes that have occurred in its organization, products, and workforce, provide a challenge to improving food safety and nutrition. Minimally processed foods have been the most impacted and include fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, and low water activity food, and other sources of high nutritional content. These foods have been accredited as being healthy for consumer to eat because of their nutritional content and include heat liable antioxidants and other compounds. In addition, fresh or minimally processed foods naturally harbor high numbers of yeast, molds and numerous potential spoilage microorganisms, in addition to being prone to contamination by pathogens. Nonthermal processing has been the primary mechanism in which industry provides safe, high quality, nutrition foods to consumers. However, current technologies are limited due to expense and the range of applicable products. Waterless nonthermal technologies are emerging that have the potential for the sustainable decontamination of food. These technologies have the advantage of conserving water, limiting chemical residues, and can be applied at atmospheric pressures.