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Pulsed light (PL) technology involves applying a few very short pulses (1 µs to 0.1 s) of high-intensity, broad-spectrum light to kill viruses, bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The key component of a “pulsed light unit” is a flashlamp filled with an inert gas, typically xenon, which emits radiation in the range 200–1100 nm, spanning the ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared region. The main mechanism by which PL causes cell death is the effect of UV light on microbial DNA. However, other mechanisms, including photochemical and photothermal effects, have also been reported. Survival curves for PL treatment are non-linear. The effectiveness of PL is affected by the interaction of the substrate with the incident light. Therefore, the treatment is most effective on smooth, non-reflecting surfaces or in clear liquids. The most suitable food industry applications include disinfection of food contact surfaces, including food packaging, and surface decontamination of unpackaged foods, food packaged in UV-transparent materials, fruit juices, and water. The chapter provides an overview of the principles of PL technology, the main factors influencing its performance, and the current and potential applications for food safety and preservation.

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