LUBBOCK, Texas — MicroZap Inc. claims its technology allows bread to stay mold-free for 60 days.
The bread is bombarded with microwaves for about 10 seconds, which kills the mold spores, said chief executive officer Don Stull said.
The process could eliminate bakers' need for preservatives and ingredients used to mask preservatives' flavor, as well as reduce food waste and increase bread's shelf life, he said.
Researchers at Texas Tech University also see using the technology in bread made in developing countries, where there are fewer food safety standards and spoilage is a problem.
Stull said testers found the treated bread's taste and texture unchanged.
Sixty-day-old bread was not available to taste.
Unrefrigerated bread in plastic packaging will succumb to mold in about 10 days.
Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, said though bread producers might like the technology for storage and transportation, airborne mold spores are problematic at home.
Once you open (the bag of bread), all bets are off, she said.
Researchers with the university tested the MicroZap on three different mold types on breads inside plastic bags with twist ties, and the microwaves destroyed each one.
But there are characteristics that the zapping won't improve; it won't keep bread from going stale. As for touch, firmness and flavor after 60 days, one scientist had his doubts.
There would certainly be some questions that I would have around the texture of the bread holding for 60 days, said Brian Strouts, head of experimental baking for the Manhattan, Kan.-based nonprofit American Institute of Baking. There's a lot of things that can start happening, including bread becoming rancid.
Stull estimated an in-home MicroZap unit would cost about $100 more than a regular microwave.