Plasma processing: a sustainable technology in agri-food processing
Globalization and rapid urbanization have led to tremendous improvement in the agriculture and food processing sectors to fulfil the food demands. In this context, managing food product safety and quality throughout the agri-food chain (pre-harvest to post-harvest) becomes vital to avoid food spoilage and increase production. Numerous innovative interventions have been investigated to achieve these goals; however, no single technology can be applied at all processing stages and may require different technologies. Nevertheless, cold plasma is a multifaceted solution for most pre and post-harvest issues, including soil/water contamination, microbial spoilage, insect infestation, and prolonged seed dormancy. In addition, the recent applications of plasma to food shape transformation is an evidence of the versatility of this technique in agri-food processing. Advantages, such as on-site production, residue, and toxic-free treatment, make the plasma process more sustainable. Reactive species, UV photons, and electrons are this plasma treatment's major compounds, giving them the peculiar and unique property to tackle most pre and post-harvest challenges. This review provides comprehensive possibilities for utilizing plasma technology throughout the agri-food chain. Various plasma systems have been developed, but their potential is limited to the lab scale. Research on large-scale applications can utilize cold plasma in future.