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Cold plasma is an antimicrobial process being developed for application as a food safety and processing technology. This novel intervention is the subject of an expanding research effort by groups around the world. A variety of devices can be used to generate cold plasma to sanitize foods, but a common defining characteristic is that processing is a non-thermal operation, i.e. the inactivation of food-borne pathogens via mechanisms that do not rely on heat. Cold plasma may be regarded as an ionized gas, with the ionization process initiated by high-voltage electrical discharges, microwaves, or other energy sources. The resulting complex mixture of ions, free electrons, radicals, and other reactive chemical species has an antimicrobial effect via the generation of UV radiation, ozone, charged particles, oxygen radicals, and other reactive species. This chapter describes the modes of action of cold plasma, discusses the primary types of technologies used in cold plasma processing, describes potential applications in food processing and packaging, and delineates the most promising areas of research, both ongoing and for the future.

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