Project Number: 8072-41000-092-00
Start Date: Feb 10, 2011
End Date: Feb 09, 2016
An integrated approach to enhance microbial safety while maintaining product quality will be adopted by combining efficacious treatments and processes with antimicrobial packaging. Current antimicrobial treatments, processes, and intervention technologies that have been demonstrated to be effective in inactivating human pathogens will be modified and evaluated to confirm their effectiveness in obtaining a minimum 3 log CFU/g reduction of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. on fresh and fresh-cut produce (mainly leafy green vegetables and tomatoes). Novel intervention technologies with higher efficacy of pathogen reduction will be developed and optimized. The impact of efficacious chemical and physical intervention technologies on sensory properties, nutrients, and shelf-life will be determined using the intensity (time, concentration, dose, etc.) that achieves a 3-log CFU/g reduction of the pathogens. In addition, new antibrowning/antimicrobial formulas will be developed to minimize risk of L. monocytogenes contamination during processing of cut fruit while inhibiting tissue browning. Furthermore, accumulation of chemical by-products as a result of chemical sanitizers and physical interventions will be investigated. Antimicrobial packaging as the final defense against human pathogens will be developed for a variety of food products (fresh-cut produce, meats, etc.) to reduce or control the re-growth of surviving pathogens during storage. Finally, combinations of efficacious intervention technologies with antimicrobial packaging will be evaluated for additive or synergistic inhibition of pathogens and preservation of product quality. Strategies and treatments will be developed to minimize adverse effects of intervention technologies and antimicrobial packaging on product quality. By combining efficacious intervention technologies and treatments with antimicrobial packaging, a 5-log reduction of common pathogens may be achieved. Intervention technologies either alone or in combination with antimicrobial packaging will be transferred to industry to enhance microbial safety of commercial food products.