Is It Safe To Use UV Light On Food?

The novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-10 pandemic continues to spread in many countries, all around the world. On top of this major health problem, we are facing now another challenge: foodborne illnesses. From red onions linked with Salmonella infections to outbreaks related to contaminated fresh lettuce, meat, and fish. According to the FDA, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually in the US. This means roughly 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne infections every year. These infections cause 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths yearly, further states the FDA [1]. 

More and more food companies are turning now to UV light disinfection for a very good reason: it works. While there are a few different types of UVC light, pulsed xenon UV disinfection seems to be a great choice for food disinfection. 

According to Penn State researchers [2] pulsed ultraviolet (UV), light technology offers a non-chemical approach to decontaminate food products.

It is highly effective, having the ability to inactivate microbes on food surfaces within a very short period of time. A variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that contaminate foods are sensitive to this light and can be either killed or inactivated within seconds to minutes. 

This is how pulsed xenon light works: the UV light disinfection unit consists of light pulses, which are delivered by a xenon gas lamp. The pulses are created by compressing electrical energy into short pulses. These pulses energize the xenon lamp. This lamp emits intense light pulses in a broad spectrum, ranging from deep UV to infrared, and these pulses last microseconds.  Thus, pulsed xenon UV makes a viable alternative to other forms of food disinfection. 

Best of all, this UVC technology does not involve the use of chemicals and does not leave chemical residuals. 

Is it safe to use a UV light Sanitizer on food?

Yes, pulsed xenon light can be safely used on the food, as long as you follow the instructions from the training material and use safety equipment. Back in 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that there are no safety concerns associated with food treated by pulsed light. Safety was evaluated during the production, processing, and handling of these foods. The treatment of foods has to be done under certain conditions- for example, there are specific wavelengths that can be used, in specific pulse duration. Furthermore, UV light disinfection should be used for surfaces [3]. Humans need to follow safety instructions and avoid skin or eye exposure to UVC light. 

Since pulsed xenon light does not create byproducts like chlorine or other chemical toxins and the flashlamp is mercury-free, this technology is also environmentally friendly. On the other hand, be aware that other UVC devices do contain mercury. 

Another reason why pulsed xenon UVC light has an excellent safety profile is because of the way it operates. Unlike mercury vapor lamps that work continuously, pulsed xenon light devices have an on/off switch that minimizes the energy consumed while providing ease of maintenance and operation. 

In summary, UV light disinfection in the form of pulsed xenon light can reduce the spread of foodborne illnesses because it disinfects foods rapidly, safely, and economically. It can be applied directly to the foods, on packaged foods, in grocery stores or restaurants. The water and air can also be disinfected with the same technology. There are no safety issues when used as recommended. 

At IZAK Scientific, all the UV Light Disinfection products are based on pulsed xenon light. Custom designs are available upon request. Full training material provided. Email us today!

  1. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/what-you-need-know-about-foodborne-illnesses
  2. https://pennstate.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/pulsed-uv-light
  3. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=179.41
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