IMPROVING FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY OF FRESH AND FRESH-CUT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory
2011 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.
The internalization of human pathogens into plant tissues has received significant attention in recent years. Human pathogens can infiltrate into plant tissues through stomata, cut edges, wounds, and vascular systems. A nondestructive X-ray computed micro tomography (Micro-CT) technique was used to investigate the internal structure of fresh produce and the possible infiltration pathways of pathogens using contrast agents and nano gold particles as simulators. The Micro-CT images provided a clear view of the internal structure of the selected vegetables and the infiltration pathways of simulators. This technique may provide a new and nondestructive means for visualizing the infiltration pathways of human pathogens in fresh and fresh-cut produce.
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.