The surprising impact of sunlight on food safety
The World Health Organization estimates that there are 600 million cases of foodborne illness every year. One way harmful pathogens can enter the food supply is through irrigation water, but researchers are using precision agriculture to create a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to combat the bacteria that makes us sick. And the tool they are using is available to everyone — the sun.
In recent years, researchers have begun to examine the effects of light on microorganisms. Antimicrobial blue light is used in hospital settings to reduce pathogens, and current research is underway at the University of Georgia to determine the viability of its use in food production.
UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Professor Govindaraj Dev Kumar, who has been involved with those studies, is also the lead researcher on a recent study to determine sunlight’s ability to affect the survival of certain bacteria in water.