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Electron beams inhibit microbial growth.

The Titan Corp. (3033 Science Park Rd., San Diego, CA 92121) and Cloverleaf Cold Storage (Sioux City, IA) are collaborating to battle pathogenic bacteria in beef. Cloverleaf will provide refrigerated USDA-approved food staging, storage and processing facilities and logistical support for Titan's new food pasteurization processing system. IBP and Excel are among the companies that will be utilizing the Cloverleaf facility to test-market the treated product.

Titan's electronic pasteurization process utilizes the company's SureBeam electron beam system that can effectively eliminate the threat of E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes, Salmonella and Campylobacter in products. Titan's electronic pasteurization process is an end-point, terminal safety treatment for meat products that can be part of a processor's HACCP program.

Titan also is also working with Mitsubishi Corp. A newly formed subsidiary of Mitsubishi will purchase a turnkey system from Titan to be installed in Japan. The system is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2001, and will be used as both a showplace and test center for food pasteurization and medical product sterilization services, and eventually as a production site. In addition, the agreement calls for Mitsubishi to market Titan's electron beam and x-ray sterilization and pasteurization technology in Japan.

Titan's SureBeam technology-which uses commercial electricity as its power source-is initially expected to be used for medical product sterilization, as an alternative to the use of nuclear isotopes. In addition to the medical sterilization market, the Mitsubishi subsidiary will also target Japan's food product markets.

As opposed to gamma processing, which utilizes radioactive Cobalt 60 as its sterilizing source, and ethylene oxide processing, which utilizes a potentially carcinogenic gas as its sterilizing agent, electron beam processing utilizes high-energy electrons as its sterilizing agent. Electrons are accelerated to near the speed of light by a linear accelerator. The resulting energies, ranging from 3 million to 10 million electron volts and coupled with 1 kW to 50 kW of power, have sufficient energy to penetrate most products in their final shipping containers.

As electrons are scanned through product, they interact with packaging and product materials, creating a variety of secondary particles, including ions and free radicals. These secondary particles break the DNA chain of microorganisms, rendering the microorganisms incapable of reproduction. The microbes within the packaged product are destroyed, and the product is sterilized.

Although electron beam technology has not yet been approved for food pasteurization in Japan, Mitsubishi and Titan are working toward regulatory approval.

Further information. Rochelle Bold; phone: 858-552-9400; fax: 858-552-9477; URL:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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