Why Ultraviolet-C Light Is a Superior Processing Solution For Juice Blends

The growing demand for health-promoting fruit and vegetable juice blends, with improved nutritional and sensory attributes, has prompted the adoption of nonthermal technologies, including ultraviolet (UV-C) light at 253.7 nm.  Below are 14 reasons why UV-C can become a superior solution and suitable alternative to ensure the safety and extend the shelf life premium cold pressed juice products.

1. Ultraviolet (UV) light is a purely physical, non-thermal and non-chemical processing technology. The temperature on the surface of low-pressure mercury lamp is maximum 40oC.

2. The regulatory approvals of the US FDA and Health Canada of the UV-C light treatment of fresh juice products concluded that there are no human food safety concerns associated with the sale of juice products that have been treated under the operating conditions of the low pressure mercury lamps at 254 nm in combination with turbulent flow.

3. UV-C light is effective as heat against all food borne pathogens.

4. A five-log reduction of the pathogens such as Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7 linked to raw juice products outbreaks can be achieved in turbid fruit vegetables blends and nuts beverages.

5. UV-C is effective against natural micro-flora, lactic bacteria, molds and yeasts, and extends shelf-life of juice products.

6. UV light can effectively reduce patulin mycotoxin, a by-product of molds that often occur in freshly made apple juice products. No formation of undesired chemical compounds has been reported as a result of patulin photo degradation.

7. Data provided to Health Canada on photochemistry of UV-C treatment indicated that the only degradation products that would occur from UV-C exposure of apple juice/cider juice products are those that occur naturally from sunlight.

8. Under properly developed UV processing conditions, UV-C treated juices tend to maintain their color profile, essential vitamins and phenolic content.  There are a number of peer-reviewed papers that also investigated effects of UV-C light on quality and health related bio-active compounds of 45 fruit and vegetable juices and their blends and confirmed their superior quality.

9. Beneficial effects of UV-C light include ability to maintain activity of essential enzymes.

10. UV processing has no effect on raw juice product taste and flavor.

11. UV treatment is simple, economical and sustainable processing method not only for UV transparent and semi-transparent products but also for UV turbid juices.

12. Various types of plastic, glass and metal packaging can be used.

13. National Organic Program (USDA) doesn’t restrict UV-C light for organic produce certification.

14. Commercial UV systems are developed and validated for processing fruit and vegetable juices in the broad industrial scale.

About The Author
Dr. Tatiana Koutchma is a Research Scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, focusing
on applied research related to novel processing technologies, development and validation of
new processes for industry. She is an internationally recognized expert in high pressure,
ultraviolet light, and other advanced thermal and non-thermal methods.