Plasma is a term we are all becoming more familiar with, as a large percentage of us now have plasma TVs. Most of us know of three states of matter; solid liquid and gas. Plasma is the fourth state, and is a high energy, charged mixture of gaseous atoms, ions and electrons. It occurs when a spark or intense heat is applied to a gas. There is a lot of plasma on Earth, but the one example we all see daily is the sun.
Microbiologists and other food safety specialists are constantly looking for alternatives or improvements in the methods for controlling or eliminating food borne micro-organisms.
An article from a study at Drexel University was published in the Journal of Food Protection in January 2012, which shows that cold plasma may be one of these methods.
Samples of raw chicken were inoculated with a type of Salmonella and Campylobacter and then exposed to the plasma for increasing times.
The results were encouraging by showing a total or near total elimination of the bacteria on the chicken at low levels and a huge reduction at higher concentrations.
Plasma is expensive to produce so it is not necessarily the first choice in food processing, but it has one major advantage, it is not hot and therefore does not change any quality aspects of the food.
There are many potential applications for plasma, besides as a food processing aid, including biomedical treatments and environmental remediation.
Plasma is being described in this study as “the fourth state of matter,”. The study claims plasma has a wide range of potential applications, including energy production and that the control, biomedical treatments and environmental remediation.