Technology to help combat Indo-Pacific malnutrition

A Murdoch University technology that prevents mould growth on fresh food is part of a $4 million initiative to combat malnutrition in the Indo-Pacific region.

The initiative, funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is targeted at helping communities in the Indo-Pacific, where malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world. The region accounts for more than half of the world’s chronically hungry people.

Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop was joined by Fijian Minister for Health and Medical Services, Rosy Akbar, to announce the funding.

“Winning initiatives will work to increase local production of healthy food using innovative technology,and drive healthier food choices through improved public health communication,” Ms Bishop said.

Murdoch University’s winning project Breaking the Mould is the brainchild of plant disease researcher Dr Kirsty Bayliss.

Dr Bayliss’s team have been performing preliminary trials for the past 18 months on a chemical-free treatment for fresh produce that increases shelf-life, prevents mould and decay, and reduces food wastage.

The team is now preparing to start scaling up trials, working with commercial production facilities.

“Our technology will directly address the global food security challenge by reducing food waste and making more food available for more people,” Dr Bayliss said.

“The technology is based on the most abundant form of matter in the universe – plasma. Plasma kills the moulds that grow on fruit and vegetables, making fresh produce healthier for consumption and increasing shelf-life.”

Dr Bayliss was named as a 2017 LAUNCH Food Innovator, and presented her research to an international audience of investors, company directors and CEOs, philanthropists and other influential people from organisations such as Fonterra, Walmart, and The Gates Foundation.

Source: Murdoch Uni

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