University of Minnesota researchers are using intense pulsed light to kill bacteria in powdered foods and prevent the potentially deadly risks of consuming them.
The federally-funded project has created a machine that can reduce harmful bacteria contamination by up to 99.99999 percent in powdered foods. Powdered foods, like flour and baby formula, have frequently been recalled in recent years due to contamination by bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, which can be dangerous and even fatal.
France had to recall all Lactalis brand infant formula last December after salmonella contamination. In 2016, General Mills had to recall several types of flour due to the presence of E. coli, and several products made with Valley Milk Products’ milk powders also had to be recalled because of salmonella.
Flour contamination is particularly dangerous because it can contaminate any foods that it is cooked or baked into, said David Baumler, a professor from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and a lead microbiologist for the project.
The research team hopes their pulsed light technology will help food companies keep their foods safe.