Innovation in fight against fungicide
CITRUS Australia has released information regarding cold plasma as a means to minimise fungicide use and improve food safety along the supply chain.
Cold plasma technology is a new tool in development by Dr Sukhvinder Pal Singh and a research team, looking to apply the new innovation.
Funding is being supplied by Hort Innovation with co-investment from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Cold plasma is a gas-like substance that displays broad anti-microbial activity.
“The benefit of cold plasma technology is that it kills bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens and is non-chemical, leaves no residues and has a short treatment time. Using this treatment can minimise use of fungicide,” Dr Singh said.
This could result in being an effective food safety tool for both packers and growers.
❝ The benefit of cold plasma technology is that it kills bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens and is non-chemical, leaves no residues and has a short treatment time. — Dr Singh
Cold plasma is still in early development however research is indicating some promise in the use of cold plasma to tackle microbial contamination in the horticulture industry.
Advances in food safety technology are picking up steam in attempts to minimise food fraud and to improve traceability to follow fruit into the Chinese market which are being falsely branded as Australian citrus.
“At the moment, market surveillance and QR codes are two possible solutions to tackle food fraud,” Dr Singh said.
“Market surveillance is too expensive. The size of the market means this is not a practical solution, QR codes are a good option.”
There is always the risk of QR codes being falsified however safer tracing options are being developed in the United states, a liquid bar-code sprayed onto the fruit after harvest.
“The bar code is invisible, edible, tasteless and odourless,” Dr Singh said.
Considered a cheap and effective means of guaranteeing better traceability.
At present, this technology is only approved in the US.