IMPROVING FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY OF FRESH AND FRESH-CUT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory
2010 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this research will be: (1) Develop techniques to improve food safety and quality of fresh and fresh-cut produce using ultra-sound and other emerging technology; (2) Investigate the effect of various new sanitizers on pathogen reduction and shelf-life extension of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables; and (3) Gain a greater understanding of how fresh-cut processing conditions affect plant metabolism, microbial growth, and their interactions.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Our cooperative approach will be: (1) Evaluate the effect of electrolyzed water and ultra-sound on microbial inhibition and shelf-life improvement of fresh-cut produce; (2) Study the effect of new sanitizers, including SANOVA and Tsunami etc. on pathogen reduction, product quality and shelf-life; and (3) Evaluate produce.
Lettuce coring-in-field harvesting is a recent industry development designed to reduce shipping cost and increase production yields; however, the design of the harvest knives currently used in the industry needs improvement in order to minimize pathogen contamination. Scientists at USDA-EMFSL and University of Illinois collaboratively developed two new harvesting knife designs with improved food safety features and tested the potential of ultrasound to improve harvest knife disinfection. We report that the two prototype coring knives harbored significantly fewer pathogenic bacteria cells than the current commercially used ones, and were much easier to disinfect. Furthermore, the use of ultrasound significantly improved the disinfection efficacy of the chemical sanitizers used to clean the harvesting knives. The progress of this project has been closely monitored by the ADODR via frequent contact with the PI at the University of Illinois via conference calls, face to face meetings and e-mails.