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Inactivation of Bacillus subtilis Spores on Aluminum and Polyethylene Preformed Cartons by UV-Excimer Laser Irradiation

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The efficacy of UV KrF-excimer laser light (at 248 nm) to inactivate Bacillus subtilis spores loaded onto preformed cartons was found to be dependent on the interior carton coating and scheme by which the irradiation was applied. When the carton was held static during UV laser treatment, the majority of the dose was delivered to the base of the carton and to a lesser extent to the upper part of the pack. In this arrangement no irradiation of the interior sides of the carton was observed. A more even distribution of dose was achieved, however, by moving the carton within the laser beam during irradiation treatment. The distribution of UV was also found to be dependent on the type of carton interior coating. With aluminum cartons the dose measured was found to be significantly greater (P < 0.01) and more evenly distributed across the interior compared to when polyethylene packs were tested. Under optimized conditions no spore survivors were detected on aluminum cartons preloaded with 9.5 × 105 B. subtilis spores by applying a UV laser output dose of 160 J. In comparison, the same conditions only achieved a significantly lower (P < 0.01) reduction in spore numbers (log count reduction 4.2) when polyethylene cartons were used. This difference in lethality and UV distribution of laser light was associated with the higher internal reflection of photons with aluminum cartons. The suitability of UV-excimer lasers for sterilizing preformed cartons over traditional germicidal lamp-based methods is discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Food Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK 2: Elopak a. s., Industrigit 4, Frydenlund, P.O. Box 523, N-3412 Lierstranda, Norway 3: Elopak Ltd., Meadway, Stevenage, Herefordshire SG1 2PR, UK 4: Exitech Ltd., Long Hanborough, Oxford OX8 8LH, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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