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Front Microbiol. 2019 Apr 2;10:622. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00622. eCollection 2019.

A Review on Non-thermal Atmospheric Plasma for Food Preservation: Mode of Action, Determinants of Effectiveness, and Applications.

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Department of Food Hygiene and Technology, Universidad de León, León, Spain.
Institute of Food Science and Technology, Universidad de León, León, Spain.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universidad de La Rioja, Logroño, Spain.


Non-thermal Atmospheric Plasma (NTAP) is a cutting-edge technology which has gained much attention during the last decade in the food-processing sector as a promising technology for food preservation and maintenance of food safety, with minimal impact on the quality attributes of foods, thanks to its effectiveness in microbial inactivation, including of pathogens, spoilage fungi and bacterial spores, simple design, ease of use, cost-effective operation, short treatment times, lack of toxic effects, and significant reduction of water consumption. This review article provides a general overview of the principles of operation and applications of NTAP in the agri-food sector. In particular, the numerous studies carried out in the last decade aimed at deciphering the influence of different environmental factors and processing parameters on the microbial inactivation attained are discussed. In addition, this review also considers some important studies aimed at elucidating the complex mechanism of microbial inactivation by NTAP. Finally, other potential applications of NTAP in the agri-food sector, apart from food decontamination, are briefly described, and some limitations for the immediate industrial implementation of NTAP are discussed (e.g., impact on the nutritional and sensory quality of treated foods; knowledge on the plasma components and reactive species responsible for the antimicrobial activity; possible toxicity of some of the chemical species generated; scale-up by designing fit-for-purpose equipment).


food processing; food quality; food safety; microbial inactivation; plasma

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