, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 1-20

Biological Aspects in Food Preservation by Ultraviolet Light: a Review

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Abstract

The potential to commercialize nonthermal ultraviolet (UV) light technologies as new methods for preserving food products has caught the attention of a food industry that wishes to fulfill consumers' demands for fresh products. Numerous investigations have demonstrated UV light's ability to inactivate a wide range of microorganisms. However, the lack of UV sensitivity data from pathogenic and spoilage bacteria is evident. In addition, the main factors associated with UV light in terms of microbial lethality remain unclear. This review surveys critical factors (process, microbial, and environmental parameters) that determine UV microbial resistance and assess the effects of such factors on the inactivation mechanism and repair pathway efficiency. The effects of some of these factors, such as prior sublethal stresses and post-recovery conditions of UV treatments, may extensively improve the damage repair capacity and thus microbial survivability. Further research is needed to establish adequate control measures pre- and post-UV treatments. Furthermore, the possibility of combining UV light with conventional preservatives and other nonthermal technologies was assessed. The combination of UV light with mild heating or oxidant compounds could offer promising treatments to enhance the safety and stability of minimally processed foods.