Want to clean your refrigerator? All you need is some purple light.
Alright, alright — that is a vast oversimplification. But there is new research that suggests that certain visible light, namely violet light, could kill the salmonella bacteria in your refrigerator, rendering the contents of your fridge safer for consumption. This is a particularly exciting discovery as pest control has previously relied upon ultraviolet (UV) light to kill unwanted cells, but given the harmful side effects of UV light, it could also be damaging and dangerous for humans. Now, however, there may be a bit more precise in our use of light.
In a new report in the American Council on Science and Health, scientists from Singapore have applied violet light for fridge-disinfecting purposes. Researchers shined violet LED bulbs on 18 different strains of salmonella in their experiment. While some strains fared better than others, all fared worse overall than when no violet light was present at all.
This is significant as salmonella is reportedly the second most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the bacteria is to blame for almost 20,000 hospitalizations and around 400 deaths every year. Sometimes, this dangerous organism is just hanging out in your refrigerator, contaminating your leftovers.
The Singaporean researchers, however, seem to have found a solution. In previous work, the team suggested that violet and blue light is capable of killing a number of bacteria related to food poisoning.
That said, it is unclear whether the light would be effective on bacteria that had already made its way into food items. It is still to be determined exactly how much violet or blue light would be needed in a refrigerator in order to be effective. But all the same, it is a meaningful discovery that could lead to fewer cases of food poisoning in the future.