Novel UV device enhances strawberry shelf life

06/04/2013 05:06:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

strawberriesVicky BoydStoring strawberries under conditions typically found in a refrigerator and subjecting them to ultra-violet light delays mold growth and spoilage.

Those are the results of research conducted by a group from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Components and Health Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and Sensor Electronic Technology Inc. in Columbia, S.C., according to a news release.

Although previous tests found traditional UV light sources caused severe drying, a novel device that uses light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, to emit the UV light enhanced storage.

The wavelengths were similar to those found in sunlight.

The LEDs produce a wide range of wavelengths and allowed the researchers to dial in on the exact UV spectrum that produced the best results.

LEDs, which are used in local supermarket refrigerator and freezer cases, perform well under cold temperatures. They also conserve electricity.

Results showed that strawberries stored at low temperatures with high humidity and exposed to UV-LEDs had a shelf life twice as long—up to nine days mold free—compared with untreated berries.

Based on the results, the team is working to commercialize the technology for home refrigerators. A device could be engineered to work in small spaces, such as refrigerator compartments.

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