Microwave zaps bread mold
LUBBOCK, Texas — Attention, bread shoppers: A Texas company could have the answer to some consumers' unwelcome discovery that just-purchased loaves contain mold.
MicroZap Inc. claims its technology allows bread to stay mold-free for 60 days. The bread is bombarded with microwaves for about 10 seconds, which kills the mold spores, chief executive officer Don Stull said.
He said the process could eliminate bakers' need for preservatives and ingredients used to mask preservatives' flavor, as well as reduce food waste and increase bread's shelf life. Researchers at Texas Tech University also see using the technology in bread made in developing countries, where there are fewer food safety standards and spoilage is a problem.
“It could help us provide an abundant food source for those in need,” said Mindy Brashear, director of the university's Center for Food Industry Excellence. The prospect of helping people in developing countries is what motivated the microbiology professor to help develop the technology over the last eight years.
After 60 days, researchers found treated bread that remained packaged had the same mold content when compared to a freshly baked loaf, Stull said. “The consumers saw no discernible quality difference in the breads,” he said. Testers found treated bread's taste and texture unchanged.
Estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council this year indicated that in 2008, in-store food losses in the U.S. totaled about 43 billion pounds — 10 percent of all foods supplied to retailers, most of which are perishables including bread.