A new technology developed by UK company Anacail can extend the shelf life of produce such as grapes and tomatoes by up to 300 per cent.
Scientists at the firm have developed a new method to improve product quality and extend shelf life of tomatoes and grapes by harnessing the mould and germ killing power of ozone.
The company has developed a prototype for a rapid, safe system that turns some of the oxygen inside sealed packaging into ozone, which is a short-lived but effective germicide.
Plasma generated by a retractable device held briefly against the surface of a plastic package splits the bonds between oxygen molecules inside the package and reforms them as ozone.
The ozone interacts rapidly with the mould, fungi or bacteria destroying them without adversely affecting the product’s taste. Any residual ozone naturally returns to its original oxygen state after a short period.
Against a control package, the technology was shown to extend shelf life in tomatoes from 5 to 20 days and a similar amount was seen with grapes.
Anacail chief scientist Hugh Potts said: “We’re very excited about the application of this technology to packaged fruit. It’s safe and easy to use, and it doesn’t require any chemical additives – the mould reducing effect comes directly from the activated oxygen via our plasma head.”
The company’s chief executive Ian Muirhead added: “We believe our ozone packaging solution can have a significant impact for producers, retailers and consumers by improving the quality of the fruit by stopping it decaying so quickly, and as a consequence reducing waste.
“The extended shelf life will also offer the opportunity for tomato and table grape exporters to expand their overseas market penetration by maintaining product quality longer than currently achieved.”