Portable ultraviolet (UV) disinfection stations are a promising solution to help foodservice establishments mitigate the spread of foodborne pathogens, enabling users to quickly disinfect frequently handled items—such as cell phones, tablets, and shared personal protective equipment (PPE)—that harbor viruses and bacteria. Since regular handwashing cannot completely prevent the spread of pathogens caused by handling contaminated personal items, UV disinfection stations can fill the gap and provide an extra layer of protection.

The application of short-wavelength UV-C light, utilized by UV disinfection devices, has been shown to inactivate bacteria, mold spores, and yeast by interfering with the nucleic acids of microbes to prevent reproduction. UV light has the advantages of being effective, low-cost, and chemical-free. UV-C light has also been proven to be safe for use on most materials—such as nylon, cotton, leather, and polypropylene—when applied at levels required to inactivate microbiological contaminants.

Although UV light disinfection devices have existed on the market for some time, the main barrier to their adoption in the food industry is design limitation. To address issues with existing devices that do not ensure the correct intensity and contact time of the applied UV light with ease, Tebots Inc. has designed a solution called POZ to address the limitations of existing devices.

Tebots’ patent-pending UV appliance runs continuously without a door to open or close, maintaining the disinfection efficacy of UV light. POZ resembles a small, portable charcoal grill. Tablet-sized or smaller items can be placed on a rotating platform, moving in a 360 degree arc through a chamber where the items are exposed at all angles to UV-C light for approximately 10 seconds. Tebots assures that, by controlling the internal environment of the chamber and the time and pattern to which a device is subjected to the UV light, more than 99.9 percent of the pathogens on surfaces can be eliminated.

The enclosed, no-contact design means the user is never exposed to UV light, and does not have to touch any part of the appliance to initiate the process, further reducing the potential for cross-contamination. POZ is portable—measuring 76 centimeters (cm) length, 76 cm width, and 120 cm height—and plugs into a standard 110 VAC outlet.

Tebots envisions the self-service disinfection stations being installed in front of foodservice facility entries and exits, bathrooms, and shared spaces.

The company is currently in discussions with several entities to license the technology. The initial design and several full prototypes have already been created.

Tebots: www.tebots.com