Plasma, known as the "fourth state of matter" (after solid, liquid and gas), is a high-energy, charged mixture of gaseous atoms, ions and electrons. Plasma has a wide range of potential applications including energy production and control, biomedical treatments and environmental remediation.
Quinlan described the plasma treatment of poultry in this study as "proof of concept." Current plasma technology is expensive relative to the narrow cost margins involved in food production, and the technology is not currently being developed for processing poultry on a large scale.
If plasma technology becomes cost-effective for use in treating poultry, it may be used in conjunction with existing methods to reduce pathogens, Dirks said, and it may also help prolong the shelf-life of raw chicken if it can be honed to remove more microorganisms responsible for spoilage.
"Until these technologies are more fully developed, consumers should assume that raw poultry has pathogens on it and take care to prevent infection," Quinlan said. "That means cooking thoroughly and making sure not to cross contaminate when handling uncooked meat and poultry."
Quinlan holds a a Ph.D. in food microbiology from North Carolina State University and bachelor's and master's degrees in food science from Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the microbiological quality and safety of food. Her ongoing work focuses on safe consumer handling of food.
The A.J. Drexel Plasma Institute recently received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to expand its plasma research.
|Contact: Rachel Ewing|