The PQC is working with Ozone Industries Ltd and MAPCAP Ltd to optimise a system for using ozone flushing of retail packs to extend the shelf-life of strawberries. Ozone; O3, is one of the most powerful oxidants on earth, and very effective for destroying micro-organisms (fungi, bacteria and viruses). Ozone is not persistent, as it reverts to oxygen, leaving no residues, thus avoiding the regulatory and other issues posed by conventional post-harvest biocide treatments. Another advantage of using gaseous ozone is that it avoids wetting the fruit which would encourage fungal growth.
In 2020, with funding from Innovate UK a series of pilot studies were carried out using an experimental system which demonstrated that ozone flushing of retail packs could extend the shelf-life of UK strawberries by 1-2 days. The consortium are now applying for funding to develop the technology into a cost-effective commercial system that can be incorporated directly into the packing line. We are also testing the potential of this technology for a range of other commodities, including raspberries, tomatoes and grapes.
We would like to thank Berry Gardens and Berry World for their help with this work.