Will Blue LEDs Help Make Food Safer?

Since LEDs provide reliable illumination at a much cooler temperature, they’re a great choice in a number of food processing and display applications. But apart from lighting facilities and grocery displays, LEDs could play an important role in preserving food without additional chemicals or other additives.

New research has shown that food, when exposed to  blue LED lamps, chilling temperatures at certain pH conditions, can be made resistant to bacteria that causes food borne illness. Tests carried out at the Food Science and Technology Programme at the National University of Siagpre Faculty of Science have shown promising impact of blue LED light and harmful bacteria.


 Blue_light_emitting_diodes_over_a_proto-boardImage Source: Wikipedia

In this study, the team placed three major foodborne pathogens—Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Salmonella Typhimurium—under blue LED illumination, and varied the pH conditions from acidic to alkaline. The team found that higher bacterial inactivation was achieved at acidic and alkaline pH conditions than when neutral. In particular, acidic conditions were more detrimental than alkaline conditions for L. monocytogenes. For E. coli O157:H7 and S. Typhimurium, alkaline conditions were most detrimental although acidic conditions were also sufficiently effective in deactivating them. […] The team’s findings have potential for food chillers or cold supply chain to preserve fresh-cut fruits, ready-to-eat seafood such as sushi and smoked salmon, as well as chilled meat products. This technology can also be useful for retail settings such as food courts and supermarkets, as well as for food suppliers.

It will be interesting to see how these findings may change the way we process, ship, store, and display food. Could it serve to keep us safer?  Do you see blue LED’s potential for killing germs being useful in other applications?

Tell us what you think of this development in the comments.