Cold plasma (CP) is generated when an electrical energy source is applied to a gas, resulting in the production of several reactive species such as ultraviolet photons, charged particles, radicals and other reactive nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen species. CP is a novel, non-thermal technology that has shown great potential for food decontamination and has also generated a lot of interest recently for a wide variety of food processing applications. This review discusses the potential use of CP in mainstream food applications to ensure food safety. The review focuses on the design elements of cold plasma technology, mode of action of CP, and types of CP technologies applicable to food applications. The applications of CP by the food industry have been demonstrated for food decontamination, pesticide residue removal, enzyme inactivation, toxin removal, and food packaging modifications. Particularly for food processing, CP is effective against major foodborne pathogenic micro-organisms such as Listeria monocytogenes
and Salmonella Typhimurium
, Tulane virus in romaine lettuce, Escherichia coli
O157:H7, Campylobacter jejuni
, and Salmonella
spp. in meat and meat products, and fruits and vegetables. However, some limitations such as lipid oxidation in fish, degradation of the oligosaccharides in the juice have been reported with the use of CP, and for these reasons, further research is needed to mitigate these negative effects. Furthermore, more research is needed to maximize its potential.
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