RF Biocidics seeks a radio hit in food safety

VACAVILLE -- From WiFi and Bluetooth to the possible harvesting of solar power from space, the humble radio-frequency wave is having something of a high-tech heyday.

Some scientists believe high-range RF is capable of transmitting power over the air. And now the lowest ranges are coming into the high-tech arena.

[caption id="attachment_72728" align="alignleft" width="400"] An RF Biocidics machine sterilizes almonds at the Vacaville plant. (image credit: RF Biocidics)[/caption]

Vacaville startup RF Biocidics (707-451-2027, rfbiocidics.com) is greening up the processing of fruits, nuts and potentially a wide range of foods by subjecting them to low-frequency radio waves.

“Our process is an alternative to steam heat or chemical pasteurization,” said Craig Powell, RF Biocidics president and chief executive officer. “There’s a move to get away from the use of PPO.”

Widely used to pasteurize almonds, propylene oxide is a highly volatile liquid and a “probable human carcinogen,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The use of steam, while nontoxic, alters the flavor of foods.

The RF technology was developed at the University of California at Davis about ten years ago, where a group of scientists spent seven years studying the effects of low frequencies on more than 100 foods.

Their research showed that RF treatment could effectively kill microbes and insects without overheating the food surface, making it suitable for a range of materials including milk, juice, fruits, nuts, seeds and spices.

The technology is now being commercialized under the auspices of Massachusetts investment group Allied Minds, Inc.

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