The Potential of Cold Plasma for Safe and Sustainable Food Production

Paula Bourke*, Dana Ziuzina, Daniela Boehm, Patrick J. Cullen, Kevin Keener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Cold plasma science and technology is increasingly investigated for translation to a plethora of issues in the agriculture and food sectors. The diversity of the mechanisms of action of cold plasma, and the flexibility as a standalone technology or one that can integrate with other technologies, provide a rich resource for driving innovative solutions. The emerging understanding of the longer-term role of cold plasma reactive species and follow-on effects across a range of systems will suggest how cold plasma may be optimally applied to biological systems in the agricultural and food sectors. Here we present the current status, emerging issues, regulatory context, and opportunities of cold plasma with respect to the broad stages of primary and secondary food production. In-package decontamination of foods using cold plasma has advanced this technology as a unit process for fresh foods decontamination and shelf-life extension. Chemical residues of agricultural pesticides of varying structure can be degraded to safe or less-toxic structures using cold plasma. Cold-plasma-mediated control of contaminants, along with the promotion of seed germination and plant growth, offers alternatives to current pesticides and fertilizers for agriculture. Controlling plasma reactive species formulations in dry and liquid delivery formats advances the potential for understanding and successful translation to multiple points along the agriculture and food sectors. Employing predictive microbiology, process optimization tools and a systems approach with controlled reactive species formulations may achieve risk- or problem-tailored solutions for whole food systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-626
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • allergen control in foods
  • food safety and sustainability
  • insect and pest control
  • pesticide residue removal
  • regulatory aspects for cold plasma technology
  • toxicity and safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering


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