UV brings disinfection benefits to processors

Despite the huge advances in cleanliness and disinfection techniques, the ongoing battle against potentially dangerous micro-organisms and microbial contamination in food continues. One weapon increasingly used by processors is UV technology, said Malcolm Snowball, technical director of UV treatment company GB Environmental. He said that UV holds the key to continued safe and effective disinfection. He added: "Our products focus heavily on making servicing and maintenance of UV equipment easier. With water cleansing, for instance, proteins within the water build up on the UV lamp and need to be removed. "The only way to do this is to break the bond between the protein and the lamp sleeve. Our Safeguard UV water treatment product uses eight scrapers with titanium dioxide cleaning heads which are actually activated by the UV light and become an oxidizer, removing the proteins. The process can be periodically operated by users, is totally safe, non-toxic to humans and can even be used in hard water areas." Ultraviolet light is a natural component of sunlight. However, using higher energy wavelengths of UV light destroys all dangerous micro-organisms, unlike chemical disinfectants, which rely on chemical oxidation to disrupt them. UV is simply light energy that disrupts the DNA of harmful organisms. By disabling their DNA the life functions of these organisms are terminated, rendering them harmless. Because no chemicals are involved, consumers don't have to worry about consuming potentially harmful chemicals or their by-products. It kills all known spoilage micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses, yeasts, protozoa and moulds (and their spores). It is a low maintenance, environmentally friendly technology and as well as not introducing toxins or residues into the process, it does not alter the chemical composition, taste, odour or Ph of the water or liquid being disinfected either. Whilst being designed to meet the stringent sanitary requirements of the food industry, today's UV disinfection systems can usually be easily integrated in-line into process systems with little disruption to plant operations. Also, the maintenance requirements are minimal - modern Amalgam UV lamps only need replacing once a year. Snowball, said: "In the past energy consumption of the lamps has been an issue with some providers. However, a lot of effort has been made to address these issues and we at GB Environmental use reduced energy Amalgam UV lamps, which are three-times more efficient than medium pressure lamps and cut down the running costs significantly. Surface disinfection is another area where UV comes into its own. Simple UV tunnels can be installed on existing process lines to disinfect meat, poultry or eggs prior to packaging, or before they are transferred to High Care areas. Surface disinfection systems are also ideal for sterilising food handling utensils, conveyor belts and packaging materials.