Food irradiation with UV light is the process of using ultraviolet (UV) light to expose foods and beverages for disinfection and food preservation. LightSources offers germicidal UVC lamps used in the food processing industry to keep food fresher, and longer and protect food against infestation of harmful pathogens.

Food Processing with UV Food Irradiation

Food Processing with UV Food Irradiation 1

UV food irradiation, the process of exposing food and beverage items to powerful germ-killing UVC energy, is useful in improving the condition and safety of many products. When ionizing ultraviolet radiation passes through food and beverage products, energy is absorbed through chemical bonds which in some cases can be an alternative to traditional thermal processing. UV food processing is proving promising in post-lethality treatment for meats, pasteurization of juices, extending the shelf life of produce, and disinfecting food contact surfaces.

UV radiation has long been well-established for surface decontamination, air disinfection, and water disinfection treatment. Chemical additives to foods have always been a public concern and food processing with UV radiation holds considerable promise in the food and beverage processing industry. UV food irradiation provides a preservation method that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Types of Foods Improved with UV Irradiation

Food processing with UV irradiation improves many food and beverage processes providing an array of benefits such as:

  • Prevents potatoes, onions, and garlic from sprouting
  • Prevents mold and mildew from forming on liquid-sugar tanks
  • Controls insects that infest grains, dried fruit, vegetables, or nuts
  • Slows the process of ripening and aging
  • Preserves nutritional value
  • Prolongs shelf life and freshness, especially for dairy and bread products
  • Reduces health hazards of food-borne illness, especially from meat, poultry, and seafood
  • Prevents listeria on conveyor belts, a big problem for meat and ready-to-eat (RTE) food processors
  • Reduces the number of microorganisms in spices and herbs
Food Processing with UV Food Irradiation 2
food irradiation

Listeria is found in raw foods such as processed meats, packaged meats, dairy products, or vegetables that become contaminated after food processing. UV disinfection of conveyor belts used in raw food processing applications keeps these contact surfaces disinfected without the use of chemicals. Moisture from chemical exposure and cleaning of conveyor belts can lead to food contamination and degradation when water-based solutions come in contact with foods and final packaging. Animals can even carry listeria without showing signs of illness and may contaminate raw food processing. UV light helps food processors prevent listeria in the final packaging of RTE foods.

Benefits of Food Processing with UV Food Irradiation

UV irradiation food processing technologies provide many cost-saving efficiencies to food processors in addition to the many food safety benefits. UV food irradiation:

  • Protects food processors with a higher level of safety
  • Mitigates risk of dispensing contaminated food
  • Improves the bottom line with more sales of fresh food and less waste

Safety of UV Food Irradiation

Germicidal UVC technology is cost-effective and safe, with the approval of many national and international agencies. The FDA, along with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have all uniformly concluded that there are no enhanced microbiological, toxicological, or nutritional hazards any different than those encountered with conventional food processing techniques. The FDA provides an Overview of Irradiation of Food and Packaging, which complies with all regulations and safety guidelines.

Germicidal UVC food irradiation uses short-wave UVC light to kill germs on packaging materials, working surfaces and some foodstuffs. The dairy and bread industries, for example, have seen excellent performance in using UVC food irradiation technology to extend shelf life and freshness. The knowledgeable lighting engineers at LightSources work closely with OEMs of food processing equipment to customize germicidal lamp systems to meet specific application needs.

Germicidal UVC Water Disinfection for Food and Beverage Industry

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Germicidal UVC technology successfully destroys pathogenic microorganisms in water used in the production of drinks without altering the taste, smell, or pH. Other water treated by germicidal UVC lamps include rinse water for fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, other foodstuffs and containers, cooling water, discharge water and process water. Once disinfected, process water can be recycled for flushing and rinsing.


UV Irradiation for Juices and Bottled Water

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Germicidal UVC technology has tremendous growth potential for the beverage industry including treating fresh juices and bottled water. The FDA approved UV light processing as an alternative treatment to thermal pasteurization of fresh juice products in 2000, according to an article published in UV Solutions magazine. This is a viable tool that commercial juice processors across the country can use to reduce harmful pathogens in all vegetable and fruit juice processes.


UV irradiation in the bottled water industry provides an added layer of safety with the growing concern about the safety of drinking water in many communities. Not all wastewater treatment facilities are capable of removing all harmful chemicals including lead and pharmaceutical waste which makes bottled water an attractive alternative. UV light radiation provides a cost efficient, highly effective, and simple disinfection process compared to chemical disinfection.

Disinfection of Non-Foodstuff Surfaces

Germicidal UVC lamps are effective in disinfecting packaging, filling equipment, conveyor belts, transport containers, and working surfaces. Packaging includes lids, cups, sealing and packaging foils for drinks and cool-chain foodstuffs. UVC technology can protect food from the processing stage, through packaging, shipping, storage, and consumption.
UVC lamps used in restaurants can disinfect countertops, food preparation areas, commercial stoves, and range hoods. UVC light in kitchen exhaust hoods prevents the buildup of grease for a cleaner and safer environment and UV disinfection lamps for countertops protect surfaces from harmful microorganisms.

UVC technology can protect food and drinks from the farm to the table, to improve food quality for all consumers while giving food processors a better product with longer-lasting life and value.

UV Germicidal Lamps
UV Germicidal Applications

LightSources is a leading global supplier of high-performance UVC lamps found in germicidal applications for air, water, and surfaces. Our lamps are safe for food irradiation and proven effective with proprietary technology that delivers long-lasting germicidal performance. Contact us to learn more about our quality lamps for UV food processing.

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