You wouldn’t consider things like a bottle of water or a lunchbox to be a biosecurity hazard on a livestock farm, but they can be. Agricultural viruses and pathogens latch onto most anything creating a risk for diseases to spread, especially when there is a high volume of people coming and going every day.
Brian Babb is with Once Innovations in Plymouth, Minnesota. He says you can have employees take a shower before they go into a barn, but you can’t box up their chicken salad sandwich in quarantine for two days. They developed what’s called a BioShift chamber to solve this problem. It looks like a microwave oven and uses UV-C radiation to stop pathogens in their tracks.
"What UV-C does, is when you expose bacteria or any living cell to it, the UV actually damages the DNA. It doesn’t necessarily kill it, but it can’t replicate. So, if you have a virus that can’t replicate, basically you’ve made it inactive," says Babb. "You put your material in it, you hit the button, 5 minutes later it comes out and it’s been de-germed, I guess would be a good term."
The system works best on items that are non-porous such as plastic or metal because UV light can only hit the surface. It certainly harms viruses and bacteria, but not the item you place inside.
"It doesn’t alter a phone, doesn’t harm electronics. We haven’t had any feedback saying that it’s changed the flavor or the taste," he says. "UV light, UV-C has been used in a lot of other environments, it’s used a lot in hospitals, a lot in other disinfection so the technology is solid. We built the application for the confinement protein business."