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New technique could make bread last two months

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December 4, 2012

New technology could make moldy bread a much less common sight (Photo: Shutterstock)

New technology could make moldy bread a much less common sight (Photo: Shutterstock)

Bread may be the staff of life, but it doesn't keep very well. Left to its own devices, a loaf will start to go moldy in a week – a fact that costs consumers and the food industry millions of dollars each year. Now, according to the BBC, a Texas-based company have developed a process that kills spores so that a loaf of bread can stay mold-free for up to 60 days.

In Britain alone, one third of all bread is thrown away and part of the reason is mold. This isn't helped by how bread is packaged, in nice airtight bags that are perfect for trapping moisture and providing spores with their own little greenhouse. Currently, the only ways to address bread mold is to either load the dough with preservatives or just put up with the problem.

The Microzap company’s approach is a new microwave device that kills mold spores in the bread before they have a chance to sprout. This isn’t a new approach. It’s long been recognized that bread can be pasteurized by microwaves, but previous techniques take up to a minute to work. This kills the spores, but it also causes moisture problems and uneven heating. The Microzap machine uses pulsed microwaves in a range of frequencies that pass through a slotted radiator to spread the microwaves evenly and kill spores in only ten seconds.

Microzap sees its technology as not just something for the bakery. It also offers it for fighting salmonella in ground turkey, improving the shelf life of pet food, and other applications where nuclear irradiation is either unacceptable or too expensive. The company also sees it as having applications in hospitals, where the microwave device can be installed in washers and dryers to sterilize clothes and linens.

Sources: BBC, Microzap

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
9 Comments

Not all bread are equally bad for going mouldy.

Old school Finnish rye bread with a hole in the middle lasts months. No preservatives, just rye flour water salt and sour dough starter. Healthy and tasty bread and good for your teeth and nice workout for jaw muscles.

Unfortunately most people like that white sliced brick wheat stuff they call bread!

White bread is for babies and elderly without teeth.

Not to forget seagulls ;)

Kääriäinen Heikki Haykey
4th December, 2012 @ 11:38 pm PST

Keep your bread in fridge and it lasts weeks

Kaido Tiigisoon
5th December, 2012 @ 02:41 am PST

@Kaido Tiigisoon,

If you keep typical British bread in the fridge it dries out quite quickly- rendering it unpalatable for anything except maybe toast. It certainly won't last weeks. It can be frozen and defrosted quite successfully but a loaf takes up a lot of space if, like me, you only have a small freezer.

@Haykey Kaariainen,

Not many people in my country like the taste of rye bread- it is one of those tastes that is very hard to aquire if you've not been trying to eat it since early childhood. Like other Finnish healthy pursuits, such as rolling naked in snow after a sauna, or swimming in frozen lakes, its best left to those who have been doing it since birth!

bergamot69
5th December, 2012 @ 07:20 am PST

Great Idea! Great Solution! The question is whether the bakeries will implement this improvement as it does not benefit the bakeries - just the consumer. Enabling bread to last weeks will reduce sales if the bread lasts longer, it won't be thrown out. I would be surprised to see bakeries increase their baking costs to sell less bread. Raising the price could be an option. Lower price for 1 week shelf life bread and a higher price for the 2 week bread? This would make sense but might not be attractive to the consumer. Offering this to restaurants, food preparers etc would make sense. A test market for 1 week vs 2 week shelf life bread would be an interesting test to evaluate consumer behavior.

CarlMR
5th December, 2012 @ 08:34 am PST

Given the low cost of your typical white bread, this may not be a good fit. (It's gross anyway) But for artisan breads, or upscale healthy stuff like Paulsbo, there might be a market.

Bruce H. Anderson
5th December, 2012 @ 09:13 am PST

Already done. Just ask any archived Twinkie.

kenlbear
5th December, 2012 @ 10:41 am PST

The best bread goes bad quickly. No preservatives. Just the basic ingredients.

Larry Hoffman
5th December, 2012 @ 12:31 pm PST

So then what? "Month-old" bread store?

DeepSouth
6th December, 2012 @ 10:45 pm PST

why bother when bread is one of the biggest problems with obesity...

Rex Alfie Lee
21st December, 2012 @ 05:09 pm PST
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