According to one recent study, the average American family throws out 40 percent of the food that it buys, costing up to $165 billion annually.
Though food waste in most developed countries is acknowledged to be a real problem, frankly, it is a hard problem to solve when necessities, like breads, fruits, and vegetables, can only last for a week and a half at best. However, an inventive company called MicroZap says that they have devised a machine that can keep bread fresh for up to 60 days.
The machine is essentially a microwave - though it differs from the one in your kitchen in some important ways. "We introduce the microwave frequencies in different ways, through a slotted radiator. We get a basically homogeneous signal density in our chamber - in other words, we don't get the hot and cold spots you get in your home microwave," Don Stull, the chief executive, said to BBC.
The device was initially manufactured in order to kill salmonella, E. coli, and MRSA, certain types of drug-resistant bacteria. However, in their studies, the researchers found that their method could kill mold spores in bread in just 10 seconds.
The invention has attracted interest from bread manufacturers, who have been puzzled about maintaining the freshness of their product. Currently, many manufacturers use preservatives, but that extends the shelf life of bread to just 10 days, and companies need to add additional chemicals to cover up the taste of preservatives. The device would mean an end to preservatives, likely a welcome goodbye for many customers.
However, some are concerned that consumers will not accept bread that lasts so long. Researchers believe that customers can be convinced of its benefits, however.
The machine does not just work for bread. Researchers were able to successfully use the machine on several other products, from jalapeno peppers to pet food.
In addition, the machine could draw an end to the constantly changing list of recalled products, which is great news for public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that an estimated 1 in 6 Americans become ill from contaminated food every year. Just this year, recalls were issued for spinach,powder milk, Mini Wheats, popcorn, peanut butter, chicken salad, and onions, among others.
There was just one product that the machine could not work its magic on: cantaloupes. Anytime cantaloupes went through the machine, they would damage.