Clean Eating A Possibility With New Food Sterilization System

After decades of food trends and practices have made the American diet less nutritious and overly dependent on processed foods, a refreshing new movement is afoot: clean eating. 

Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to eat clean by incorporating fresher, more natural foods into their diet and eliminating highly processed foods laden with additives and preservatives. Startup company915 Labs of Colorado is hoping to play a major role in the clean eating movement by harnessing a new and healthier way to process and package foods developed at Washington State University (WSU). 

The new sterilization method, called microwave-assisted thermal sterilization (MATS), is drastically different than conventional food processing, a process that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years. Historically, food has been vacuum packed in a can or pouch and placed in a pressurized cooker at temperatures above 250 degrees for up to an hour. 

“Conventional thermal processing was invented for all the right reasons, so that pathogens would be removed from our food,” says Michael Locatis, CEO of 915 Labs. “[But] it also causes significant damage to the flavor, texture, color and nutritional content of food, which forces food companies to use additives to mask that damage. There are more than 3,000 FDA-approved food additives to compensate for flavor and texture lost during processing.” 

In contrast, the MATS technology invented by WSU’s Juming Tang, Ph.D., eliminates food pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in just 5 to 8 minutes by immersing packaged food in pressurized hot water and simultaneously heating it with microwaves at a frequency of 915 megahertz (MHz), which penetrates food more thoroughly than the 2450 MHz used in home microwave ovens.   

“When you shorten cooking time, you retain more nutritional value,” says Tang. “You produce a product that is more appealing to the consumer.” 

Adds Locatis, “MATS has a light touch on the food product. It gives the culinary experts a chance to pull the junk out.” 

Continue reading article at The Better World Project.