Recently, a team of researchers led by professor Juming Tang at Washington State University (WSU) developed a microwave system that’s designed to help increase the shelf life of food products. Known as Microwave Sterilization Process, this newly developed method would allow food products to stay fresh for a longer period of time without spoiling. As you may already know, food waste is a huge problem not only in the U.S., but throughout the world as well. According to a 2012 report done by CNN, around 40% of food in the U.S. is thrown out. Thankfully, however, WSU’s new Microwave Sterilization Process could help reduce these numbers once it becomes more widely used.
WSU researchers didn’t just happen to stumble along the Microwave Sterilization Process method, but instead they’ve been working on collectively for around 15 years. Back in 2006, they began submitting patents to the U.S. patent office to help protect their concepts. They were granted the patents and thus continued to improve and tweak their original design.
Following the patents submitted by the team, the next step was to get approval by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA). If the Microwave Sterilization Process is going to be used commercially, it must first receive approval by the FDA. Thankfully, the FDA approved the team’s Microwave Sterilization Process, giving it the green light for commercial use.
Microwave Sterilization Process is considered a thermal food processing method since it heats the food to a higher temperature. It’s important to note, however, that it essentially cooks the food from the inside using microwave waves. Traditional ovens cook food from the outside, which is effective but also doesn’t create as much heat inside. Microwaves, on the other hand, blast the food with a short stream of waves that cook them from the inside out.
There are a couple unique benefits to using the Microwave Sterilization Process on food, one of which is it’s ability to kill off potentially-harmful microorganisms and bacteria. The intense heat generated from the waves naturally destroys these microscopic pests, greatly reducing the chance of food-borne illness. Other advantages include a better taste, looks more appealing, easier to package, longer freshness and even more nutritional content retention. Of course this is really just scratching the surface on why WSU’s Microwave Sterilization Process is such a profound development in the food processing and manufacturing industry. Let’s hope the word spreads and more companies start using this process.