Post-Harvest and Non-Thermal Technologies

Dr Patrick Cullen and Dr Paula Bourke. In-package cold plasma technology: Plasma diagnostics and food quality studies.

Electrical and optical characterisation of the nonthermal plasma source is essential prior to translating this technology to industrial applications. This project includes diagnostic studies using capacitance-voltage studies and emission/absorption spectroscopy. The work focuses on aspects of food quality following cold plasma treatment and the physical and chemical characterisation of the plasma using fresh produce. Also, the opportunities and challenges associated with in-package cold plasma technology are being investigated.

Dr Patrick Cullen and Dr Paula Bourke. Utilisation of in-package cold plasma technology for food safety control. 

Atmospheric cold plasma inactivates in-package microorganisms. The inactivation efficacy is associated with process and system parameters, including treatment time, post-treatment storage time and mode of exposure. Both the treatment time and post-treatment storage time have been proven to sterilize bacterial suspensions and food products. The mechanism of this anti-microbial effect is associated with the generation of reactive species. Different parameters are investigated to vary the type and amount of reactive species, which results in different inactivation efficacies. The damage patterns differs between microbial species with different cell structures offering insights into the mechanism of action and how the technology can be enhanced for a range of food safety issues.


Irish Phytochemical Network (FIRM)

The Irish Phytochemical Food Network is an alliance of scientists from various food related research fields (horticulturist/agronomist, food engineers, food chemists, nutritionists, consumer behavior and marketing.) that gathers and exchanges knowledge on naturally occurring nutrients and bioactive compounds (phytochemicals) in Irish fruits and vegetables.


Sensory Food Network Ireland (FIRM)

The creation of this national sensory network will create a critical mass of activity in a broad range of areas which relate to sensory (consumer behaviour, food formulation, food safety, preference mapping etc). Through mutual collaborative efforts, and highlighting the facilities and capabilities available for the food industry (and policy makers such as Bord Bia, EnterpriseIreland etc), we are now in a unique situation to develop a world-class capability in sensory food science across the island of Ireland. The full range of capabilities within each of the ten institutions will be demonstrated and information and access to these resources will be made available to all network partners and students. 


Dr Catherine Barry-Ryan. Mushroom Waste utilisation. 

The production of food in a more sustainable way and the valorisation of waste are currently important issues for the food industry. In particular, for the ready to eat fruit and vegetable industries where a large amount of waste (cut-offs, peels, harvest remains etc.) is produced. As functional foods and ingredients gains interest by consumers there is a market opportunity to generate potential ingredients that could be applied to design novel products. This project will focus on the valorisation of by-products from Agaricus bisporus waste (cut-offs, harvesting remains such as stalks etc.) for the Irish mushroom industry.


Dr Catherine Barry-Ryan. WheySan: A solution for the sanitizing of whole and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

Whey and its derivatives have shown promising perspectives as natural preservatives for disinfection of fruit and vegetables. The project WHEYSAN sucessfully developed a new technology for the decontamination of whole and freshcut fruit and vegetables and for the processing of whey to achieve a profitable by-product with sanitizing properties.

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