FOOD PROCESSING: meat production and preservation

The meat production, processing, and preservation industry play a crucial role in the global food supply chain. Laboratories and factories involved in meat processing operate under strict environmental conditions. Low temperatures and controlled humidity are necessary to ensure the preservation and safety of meat, but these conditions can also encourage the growth of undesirable microorganisms. The prevention of microbial contamination is a key priority to ensure the quality and safety of meat products.
 UVC (ultraviolet C) technology is emerging as a significant tool in achieving these goals. In this article, we will explore the importance of UVC technology and its various applications in the meat industry.

UVC technology has proven and tested efficacy to disinfect and eliminate microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungi. Its importance in the meat industry lies in its ability to:
Enhance Food Safety: UVC technology helps reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses by effectively killing harmful pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria on meat surfaces.
Extend Shelf Life: By eliminating spoilage-causing microorganisms and molds, UVC technology can extend the shelf life of meat products, reducing food waste and production costs.
Physical disinfection: The use of ultraviolet rays as a purely preventive and exclusively physical method, thus without adding chemicals (preservatives) to meat products.
Improve Product Quality: UVC treatment preserves the freshness and quality of meat by preventing bacterial growth and maintaining the desired color and texture.
Ensure Compliance with Regulations: UVC technology aids meat producers in meeting stringent food safety and hygiene regulations, enhancing their reputation and customer trust.

Surface Disinfection: UVC lamps and systems are used to disinfect the surfaces of equipment, tools, and workspaces in meat processing facilities. This reduces the risk of cross-contamination during meat handling and processing.
Air Sterilization: UVC air purification systems are installed in meat processing areas and cold storage rooms to continuously sterilize the air. This helps prevent the spread of airborne pathogens and molds that can contaminate meat products.
Water Treatment: UVC technology can be employed to disinfect water used in meat processing, ensuring that waterborne contaminants do not compromise product safety.
Packaging and Storage: UVC systems are used to disinfect packaging materials and storage areas, reducing the risk of microbial growth during transportation and storage.
Cold Storage Rooms: The proper use of UV light for decontaminating air in cold storage and during its processing allows for optimal conditions from a bacteriological, humidity and temperature point of view. The result is a significant decrease in losses and returns. 
Quality Control: UVC technology can be integrated into quality control processes to assess the microbiological safety and quality of meat products.
Preservation of Freshness: UVC is applied to the surfaces of packaged meat products to extend their freshness and prevent the growth of spoilage microorganisms.
Decontamination of Processing Equipment: Meat processing machinery and equipment can be sanitized using UVC systems to ensure they are free from harmful pathogens.

Investment in UVC systems can bring significant economic benefits in the long term. By reducing the risk of contamination and increasing the shelf life of products, significant savings can be made and the company's reputation can be enhanced through the production of high quality meat that is safe for the consumer.

While UVC technology offers numerous benefits, safety precautions are essential to protect workers from potential exposure to UVC radiation. Protective measures include the use of shields, timed shut-off systems, and the installation of UVC fixtures in areas where personnel are not present during operation.
Furthermore, it is important to accurately calculate the UV dose required to achieve the desired microbial abatement. Relying on competent companies with products tested by independent laboratories for their effectiveness is therefore of paramount importance.

UVC technology is becoming increasingly significant in the meat production, processing, and preservation industry due to its ability to enhance food safety, extend shelf life, improve product quality, and ensure compliance with regulations. By implementing UVC solutions tailored to their specific needs, meat producers can contribute to safer, higher-quality meat products for consumers while reducing operational costs and food waste.

We have been providing UVC disinfection systems for industrial production lines for over 35 years.
Contact one of our product specialists for an installation proposal and quote.

An overview of the UVC solutions we offer for the food processing industry is available here:

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Ultraviolet rays are electromagnetic waves which are part of light. Electromagnetic waves are divided into three main wavelength bands, expressed in nanometers, nm: Ultraviolet rays (UV) 100-400 nm Visible rays (light) 400-700 nm Infrared rays (IR) 700-800,000 nm UV rays are in turn identified in three bands:

  • UV-A (315-400 nm) with tanning properties;
  • UV-B (280-315 nm) con proprietà terapeutiche e di sintesi della vitamina "D";
  • UV-C (100-280 nm) with germicidal properties.

UV-C rays (100-280 nm) have a strong germicidal effect and reach their maximum efficacy at the 265 nm wavelength. The germicidal effect of UV-C radiation covers bacteria, viruses, spores, fungi, moulds and mites; this is mainly due to the destructive effect of the UV-C rays on their DNA, which damage their reproductive system and prevent them from replicating.

Bacteria, Viruses, Spores, Fungi, Mould, and Mites are all sensitive to, and can therefore be eliminated with, UV-C light. Mircrobes cannot acquire resistance to UV-C light, unlike that which occurs using chemical disinfectants and antibiotics. UV rays are ecological. Polluting the environment is inevitable using normal disinfectants. Directly inhaling the vapours, or swallowing food products contaminated by any contact with said chemical disinfectants, can also give rise to a number of serious risks. In cases where chemical disinfectants cannot be eliminated (food, pharmaceutical, healthcare industries, etc.), using ultraviolet rays for disinfection allows a reduction in their use, with considerable economic savings and greater care for the environment, while maintaining and almost always improving the level of disinfection. UV-C light devices can be installed in environments and on machinery and be programmed to maintain the same level of disinfection day and night, guaranteeing ideal hygiene conditions, without highs and lows. On the contrary, chemical disinfectants are effective only during their actual use. Using LIGHT PROGRESS equipped luminaires, operating costs are negligible; it could be said that “LIGHT PROGRESS” UV-C systems do not require maintenance except for the normal replacement of the lamps. The cost/benefit ratio is considered excellent; the devices are both powerful and long-lasting. Hence the elimination of germs using UV-C technology is low-cost and highly effective compared to (or in combination with) other systems.

UV-C really does work when applied correctly and with the necessary precautions. The difference between a quality project and an unsuccessful application is in-depth knowledge and experience gained over time. Since 1987, Light Progress has been carrying out successful projects all over the world and has acquired a clientele of major companies in all sectors that require verified hygienic conditions to produce quality products and services.