In Australia, you get used to the fact that if you want bread to stay mould-free for longer than 40 seconds, it goes straight from your supermarket bag into the fridge or freezer. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just leave a loaf on your counter for a couple of months without fear of pale green splotches invading its soft and delicious sanctity?
Enter a team of engineers from Texas Tech University in the US and its "MicroZap" technology, which in tangible form is essentially a giant microwave. The machine makes use of "pulsed power and multiple radio-frequency sources" to deliver an even dose of energy to an item of food. The treatment apparently does not change its flavour or otherwise taint it, according to the MicroZap website. The company describes it as a form of "cold pasteurisation"; the process takes just 10 seconds to wipe out the spores responsible for causing mould in bread.
Once processed, MicroZap says the bread can maintain the quality of fresh bread for as long as 60 days.
Despite the obvious benefits, it might take some doing to get the bread industry to adopt the technology, according to comments published by the BBC from MicroZap's chief executive, Don Stull. Stull says that because bread margins are so tiny, the increased costs of using MicroZap could put the industry off the technology. He counters by saying MicroZap could replace taste-altering preservatives and additives, for those producers concerned about quality.
Would you be up for eating a piece of two-month old bread? As long as it doesn't kill you, why not?