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Plasma activated water to manage microbial contamination 

24 June 2022

AMPC is investing in a project looking at technology which manages the microbial contamination of red meat. 

The technology produces plasma activated water (PAW) to wash and decontaminate meat surfaces. PAW can be made in processing plants using electricity to produce ionized oxygen and nitrogen particles from air. These particles are then infused into wash water producing reactive oxygen and nitrogen particles which have a bactericidal effect, that is, PAW will kill bacteria. The PAW infused wash water is then sprayed onto meat. The ionized oxygen and nitrogen particles are active for a short time only before returning to oxygen and nitrogen molecules found in air. 

The benefit of this approach is that no chemicals are used which means there is no chemical waste. The active components are only water and air.

The approach is expected to be low cost, scalable and environment and consumer friendly. 

AMPC Program Manager Ann McDonald said, “We are investigating the use of this technology to control salmonella and generic E.coli contamination on fresh meat. We are also looking into the control of other bacteria.”

The aim of this is to test new tech that processors can consider as an option to improve food safety and increase shelf-life of meat.

Ann said, “This technology is an exciting and relatively new area of work for the meat industry. It is already used in pilots overseas to reduce bacterial contamination on fruit and vegetables, although the technology has not yet entered the global market. Even though the project won’t conclude for a few more months, the results look promising and further work in this area is being considered. 

“The tech can be used for other applications in meat processing plants such as decontaminating surfaces and equipment rather than using chemicals.”

AMPC worked together with the University of NSW on the project.