MICROBIAL FOOD SAFETY OF FRESH AND FRESH-CUT PRODUCE
Project Number: 1265-42000-004-00
Start Date: Apr 08, 2006
End Date: Mar 20, 2011
(1) Develop rapid and sensitive methods for detection of enteric human pathogens and spoilage bacteria from conventional and organically grown produce, (2) Develop effective postharvest sanitizing procedures providing improved antimicrobial activity while maintaining produce quality and shelf-life, and (3) Understand the ecology and mechanisms that allow specific human and spoilage microorganisms to persist on fresh produce and develop control agents to reduce food safety risks.
We will design experiments to optimize rapid, real-time PCR-based microbial detection methods for enteric human pathogens and also assess the application of similar methods for spoilage bacteria on fresh and fresh-cut produce. Because of the high organic load in produce wash water, sanitizer applications approved for fresh and fresh-cut preparation often do not provide effective control of human pathogens or may cause adverse effects on produce quality and shelf-life. Sanitation and wash procedures that are more effective in the presence of a high organic load would be developed. We will identify gene families from human pathogens involved in resistance to sanitation agents as well as stress-tolerance which could be used as ‘targets’ to design novel food sanitation agents. We will develop effective Biocontrol agents such as bacteriophages, yeasts and lactic acid bacteria to enhance food safety by limiting human pathogens on fresh-cut produce without affecting its quality or shelf-life.