Cutting-edge food tech in the pipeline

Patrick Caruana
The Examiner

A MULTIMILLION-dollar food processing machine using cutting-edge technology could be set up in the North as soon as next year.

Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilisation was developed by the US military and produces high-quality, long-life foods for defence personnel, but the technology has potential humanitarian and commercial uses.

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Food Innovation is investigating the viability of using MATS in Australia.

A Scottsdale forum investigating the state’s interest showed that businesses were ready to embrace the idea, according to University of Tasmania professor Roger Stanley.

‘‘We had a range of food industry representatives, which is encouraging because the technology is applicable across so many sectors – red meat, seafood, vegetables,’’ he said.

He said MATS could already produce prepackaged meals that could be kept for 12 months without freezing or refrigeration, creating opportunities for export products.

“Tasmania produces a lot of high- quality products, but not many complete meals,” Professor Stanley said.

Professor Stanley said that if the study was successful, a pilot MATS plant could be hosted at the Scottsdale DSTO as soon as next year.

Mike Locatis, the chief executive of Colorado firm 915 Labs, said the plant could establish Tasmania as a world leader in food technology.

‘‘The research areas that could set Tasmania apart are in the packaging realm and in the food development realm,’’ he said.

‘‘We could see signature products from Tasmania carrying through as complete meals with high-quality branding.’’

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic has said the technology could be a ‘‘game-changer’’ for the North.

The study is due to end by the middle of the year.

Source: The Examiner