Plenary 6: Diversity in applications

Thursday November 10, 2022 from 10:30 to 12:00

Room: Lunar & Moon

P6.2 A new low energy electron beam machine to reduce microbial loads in dry plant-based foods

Heidi Kotilainen, United Kingdom

Product Manager
Buhler Group


Low-energy electron beam (LEEB) for reduction of microbial loads on dry plant-based foods

Heidi Kotilainen1.

1Buhler UK, London, United Kingdom

Increasing consumer demand for minimally processed foods is a key driver to develop alternative solutions for food safety. It is widely accepted that microorganisms reside mainly on the surface of dry plant-based foods. Therefore, it is unnecessary to expose the internal parts of the food to decontamination treatments. The maximum energy of low-energy electrons is 300 keV, therefore, the penetration depth is only up to a few hundred micrometers, meaning only the surface of food is treated. The objectives of this presentation are: to introduce the development and potential of LEEB to reduce the microbial load to safe levels with minimal impact on the quality of heat-sensitive plant-based foods, and discuss the commercial adaptation of the technology to the food industry, its acceptance, and future opportunities. 

Based on a  study performed by Buhler, LEEB is one of the most promising microbial reduction solutions for dry plant-based foods and so Laatu, a commercial name for technology based on LEEB, was developed. Laatu is an on-site, self-shielded solution with a small footprint that can be easily implemented within a processing line. Laatu has been commercialized for spice processing and validated for 5-log reduction of Salmonella. The solution has also been tested for several foods for different application purposes. However, the regulations and labelling rules around irradiation limit its application to a narrow range of foods.

The results indicate that LEEB treatment is an efficient microbial reduction technology with minimal impact on the sensory and chemical quality of food. The first machine has been validated and implemented for spice processing. The solution can also be used for many other dry plant-based food applications, such as nuts, seeds, and grains.

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