The ongoing outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian flu has raised concerns over food safety, as poultry meat and eggs can contain the aviation influenza virus.
But this is an opportunity rather than a crisis for Cho Yong-sik, CEO of Safe Food Company (SFC), who has developed a technology to eliminate contamination risks from the shells of eggs.
"Safe eggs, free from any diseases, are very important, given recent outbreaks of bird flu," he said. "We have succeeded in pasteurizing eggs just like for milk so that they contain no viruses such as Salmonella and aviation influenza."
Another distinctive feature of SFC's eggs is the longevity of shelf life as well as the preservation of their nutritional values without any risk for contamination, according to Cho.
But the pasteurization of eggs requires an advanced technology used in the manufacturing of semiconductors, because a very detailed control of temperatures, differently applied to the yolk and the egg white, is a critical part of the process. SFC is the only company with this technology in the world that has since been patented in many European countries, the U.S., China and Japan.
Due to growing concerns over food safety, SFC has already transferred its technology to firms in various countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Dubai where pasteurized eggs are available at supermarkets, and is now in talks with companies in the U.S. and China for possible technology transfer.
"Although they are more expensive than ordinary eggs, more and more people prefer our eggs, because they are safe from any contamination," Cho said.
He explained that he came up with the technology in response to recent food safety concerns.
"In the 1990s, the U.S. government announced the Egg Safety Action Plan because of concerns about egg-related diseases and strengthened regulations to prevent the growth of bacteria that may be in eggs. I thought that the pasteurization of eggs had a huge potential," he said.
SFC's technology is now attracting attention, especially amid the ongoing apprehension about bird flu. The new strain of avian flu has killed over 20 and infected at least 109 in China alone this year.
He said the pasteurized egg technology can be used not only in the food industry but also in bio medicine, because eggs are necessary in producing vaccines.
"Amid the growing threat from the outbreaks of avian influenza, another concern is to secure safe eggs to produce vaccines. We can provide safe eggs to anyone who needs them," he said.