Bread may be the staff of life, but it doesn't keep very well. Left to its own devices, a loaf will start to go moldy in a week – a fact that costs consumers and the food industry millions of dollars each year. Now, according to the BBC, a Texas-based company have developed a process that kills spores so that a loaf of bread can stay mold-free for up to 60 days.
In Britain alone, one third of all bread is thrown away and part of the reason is mold. This isn't helped by how bread is packaged, in nice airtight bags that are perfect for trapping moisture and providing spores with their own little greenhouse. Currently, the only ways to address bread mold is to either load the dough with preservatives or just put up with the problem.
The Microzap company’s approach is a new microwave device that kills mold spores in the bread before they have a chance to sprout. This isn’t a new approach. It’s long been recognized that bread can be pasteurized by microwaves, but previous techniques take up to a minute to work. This kills the spores, but it also causes moisture problems and uneven heating. The Microzap machine uses pulsed microwaves in a range of frequencies that pass through a slotted radiator to spread the microwaves evenly and kill spores in only ten seconds.
Microzap sees its technology as not just something for the bakery. It also offers it for fighting salmonella in ground turkey, improving the shelf life of pet food, and other applications where nuclear irradiation is either unacceptable or too expensive. The company also sees it as having applications in hospitals, where the microwave device can be installed in washers and dryers to sterilize clothes and linens.