Application of Light-Emitting Diodes in Food Production, Postharvest Preservation, and Microbiological Food Safety

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Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) possess unique properties that are highly suitable for several operations in the food industry. Such properties include low radiant heat emissions; high emissions of monochromatic light; electrical, luminous, and photon efficiency; long life expectancy, flexibility, and mechanical robustness. Therefore, they reduce thermal damage and degradation in crops and foods and are suitable in cold-storage applications. Control over spectral composition of emitted light results in increased yields and nutritive content of horticultural or agricultural produce. Recently, LEDs have been shown to preserve or enhance the nutritive quality of foods in the postharvest stage, as well as manipulate the ripening of fruits, and reduce fungal infections. LEDs can be used together with photosensitizers or photocatalysts to inactivate pathogenic bacteria in food. UV LEDs, which are rapidly being developed, can also effectively inactivate pathogens and preserve food in postharvest stages. Therefore, LEDs provide a nonthermal means of keeping food safe without using chemical sanitizers or additives, and do not accelerate bacterial resistance. This article provides a review of the technology of LEDs and their role in food production, postharvest preservation, and in microbiological safety. Several challenges and limitations are identified for further investigation, including the difficulty in optimizing LED lighting regimens for plant growth and postharvest storage, as well as the sensory quality and acceptability of foods stored or processed under LED lighting. Nevertheless, LED technology presents a worthy alternative to current norms in lighting for the growth and storage of safe and nutritious food.
Craig D'Souza
Hyun-Gyun Yuk
Gek Hoon Khoo
Weibiao Zhou
Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety