My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Cornell University’s Department of Food Science and How Blue LED Affecting Food Freshness

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science and How Blue LED Affecting Food Freshness

Looks like those new Refrigerators with LED Lights in Hi-Lo may be turning off customer from buying milk and cereal.

This as a study by Cornell University’s Department of Food Science reveals that milk goes sour in the presence of LED Light as noted in the article “LED Lights Are Bad For Milk”, published by June 24, 2016 By Lulu Chang, Digitaltrends.

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The researchers, Cornell’s Milk Quality Improvement Program laboratory supervisor and lead author Dr. Nicole Martin, discovered that milk exposed to LED lights longer than four (4) hours diminished the taste of the milk more than the  presence of bacteria in the milk.

In fact, their research points to the blue wavelength in LED light as being the causative agent, damaging the nutrients in the milk and thus the perceived quality of the milk.

Put simply, refridgerated milk that was not exposed to LED light over a two (2) week period tasting better than milk exposed to LED light during that time, to quote co-author Dr. Martin Wiedmann: “We found that without LED exposure, most pasteurized milk remains at high quality for 14 days; importantly this study now provides new information that can be used to further improve the quality of milk, for example through light shielding packaging”.

This find is made even more amazing when you consider that LED lights affects milk even when packaged in cardboard carton boxes. One would think that the milk has to be in transparent plastic bottled to be affected by the light from LED's.

So how did the researchers from Cornell University’s Department of Food Science make this discovery?

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science Milk Research – LED Light bad for Milk

The researchers from Cornell University’s Department of Food Science conducted their experiment by doing a survey of milk drinkers perception of taste of two (2) types of milk:

1.      Skim Milk
2.      2% Milk

Each type of milk had been exposed to different amount of LED Light. for each type of milk, scientists exposed on batch to real-world LED lights in showcases in supermarkets for 4 hours (experiment) while another batch was kept in the refridgerator away from LED Light from 4 hours up to 14 days, unexposed to LED Light (Control).

Then using a double blind test, consumers were then asked to rate the taste of the milk that were given as samples to drink. To their surprise, the consumer preferred the milk unexposed to LED light, even when it was near code/near expiration date, meaning it was going sour.

Apparently, even the sour taste from bacteria had less of an effect on the taste of milk than LED Lighting!

Blue Light and Riboflavin – How Milk is getting the Blues from too much Blue light

LED lighting wavelength differs from fluorescent bulbs used in some supermarkets. LEDs emit in the blue spectrum, around 460 nanometers with a broader emissions peak than fluorescents.

That Blue light peak is close to the narrow band where riboflavin absorbs light as argued in the article “Blue Wavelengths of LED Light Negatively Affect Milk Quality”, published June 09, 2016, LED Professional.
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For this reason, the researchers at Cornell University’s Department of Food Science have concluded that riboflavin, which would resonate at the frequency of the blue light emitted by the LED light, could be chemically altered by the vibrational energy of intense blue light found in most refrigerator displays.

This suggests that exposure to LED Lights, not bacteria, as a more significant effect on perceived freshness and taste of milk to quote lead author Nicole Martin, quote: “Milk drinkers want the freshest, highest quality milk they can get. For most consumers the idea of freshness is in inverse relationship to the expiration date on the package. This study shows that light exposure is a much greater factor explaining deteriorating milk quality than even age.”

Supermarkets and Blue Light – Affecting Riboflavin and Freshness of Supermarket food

The discovery of Blue LED Lights has changed out world, even winning the Japanese co-inventors the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics as noted in my blog article entitled “2014 Nobel Prize for Physics Blue LED's are excellent Flourescent and Incandescent Replacements”.

However, the blue LED light which is used in electronics with Red and Yellow to create the different shades of colour and white light, seems to be responsible for everything from humans not getting enough sleep to light pollution as noted in the article “Doctors issue warning about LED streetlights”, published June 21, 2016 by Richard G. "Bugs" Stevens, CNN Edition. 

So this latest discovery does not surprise me.

Hopefully this means that Supermarkets will start packaging milk in light shielded packaging to quote co-author Martin Wiedmann: “We found that without LED exposure, most pasteurized milk remains at high quality for 14 days; importantly this study now provides new information that can be used to further improve the quality of milk, for example through light shielding packaging”.

But what does this mean for supermarkets like Hi-Lo in Jamaica?

Supermarkets and LED Lights – Less LED’s carton boxes coated with beeswax

Supermarkets will also have to make considerations for the use of fluorescent lighting in general and its effect on food freshness and their business.

It appears that the real culprit is not LED but the blue wavelength in the light that's destroying riboflavin and other nutrients in the food packaged in transparent packaging and causing it to have a bad taste.

This research has implications not only for the taste of milk but for any product containing milk or riboflavin in transparent packaging in supermarkets such as Hi-Lo Supermarket in Jamaica such as:

1.      Biscuits
2.      Bread
3.      Bun
4.      Fish
5.      Meat

The solution? 

Recyclable cardboard carton boxes coated with beeswax as described in my blog article entitled  “Why Wisynco making coloured Biodegradable Styrofoam heralds Beeswax Cardboard Packaging” will keep the air out, block Blue LED light and thus make milk and other product with milk in it last longer.

Hopefully, this will lead to a revolution in the use of more recyclable packaging options that will also serve the dual purpose of making food taste fresher and last longer.






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