Rapid Disinfestation and Disinfection Method for Fresh Agricultural Products

Tech ID: 11440 / UC Case 2002-160-0


Novel Method for Exposing Commodities to Rapid Cycles of Pressure Differentials that Induce Biocidal Effects

Full Description

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a novel method for rapid and effective insect and mite control that also induces biocidal effects (disinfection or control of microbial growth) applicable to a variety of commodities (i.e., fresh, dried, processed foods, and cut flowers).

In this method, commodities are exposed to rapid cycles of differing pressures in the presence of gases. Short-timed additions of carbon dioxide and volatile (removable) non-toxic chemicals induce further physiological damage on pests and on microbial contaminants while accelerating the process. This process stresses pests, such as insects and mites, and causes them to release oxygen reserves while damaging critical respiratory structures. Respiration of aerobic microbial contaminants is simultaneously affected causing a permanent disruption in metabolic pathways leading to cell division. Because this process speeds up the time required for effective disinfestation and disinfection, while using natural, transient chemicals, it eliminates or minimizes the potential for residues, sensory and/or physiological changes in the host commodity. Thus, this process is applicable to conventional and as well as organically grown products. In addition, this method is a practical, economical approach similar to fumigation and modified atmospheres used in foods and fresh horticultural perishable commodities.

A prototype device that employs this novel method has been fabricated and successfully tested.


  • Potential as a single alternative to a broad spectrum of post-harvest pesticides for disinfection
  • Potential alternative to methyl bromide fumigation or to irradiation for the post-harvest control of arthropods
  • Simultaneous disinfestation and disinfection of fresh agricultural commodities
  • Faster quarantine process for large batches of commodities that need to enter ports and cross boarders (applicable to multiple pallets)
  • Technology is scalable for harvest sites and packing plants


  • Effective for killing eggs, larvae, and adult insects and mites
  • Effective in controlling fungal and bacterial growth, which allows longer shelf life
  • Residue free process apt for conventional and organic commodities
  • Process takes only 2-6 hours, much faster than current controlled atmosphere processes and fumigation with methyl bromide
  • Commodities are not damaged by process

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,733,015 05/27/2014 2002-160
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,726,564 05/20/2014 2002-160


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Other Information


Disinfection, Disinfestation, Fresh agricultural products, methyl bromide alternative

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