1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
ARS is interested in developing effective intervention technologies during post-harvest handling and fresh-cut processing to inactivate pathogens, and/or reduce their survival and growth while maintaining produce quality and shelf-life. A team has been assembled, consisting of researchers from University of Illinois, North Carolina State University, University of Arizona, and University of California, each contributing their unique expertise to achieve the goals of the research. The proposed research is a part of an awarded NIFA grant entitled “Innovative Technologies and Process Optimization for Food Safety Risk Reduction Associated with Fresh and Fresh-cut Leafy Green Vegetables” (Agreement # 60-1265-1-029).
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The Cooperator has expertise in performing quality and microbial assessment of leafy greens after fresh cut processing. Specifically, the quality and shelf life of leafy greens will be evaluated following optimization of the bench and pilot-scale ultrasonic treatment washing units developed by the University if Illinois. Testing will be conducted in collaboration with Dole Fresh Vegetables (Bessemer City, NC).
3. Progress Report:
The collaborator at North Carolina State University visited Dole Fresh Vegetables’ fresh-cut plant in Bessemer City, NC to get an overview of the scale of processing and the types of equipment (air knives, rinses, etc) used during preparation of leafy greens. Materials were purchased and protocols initiated for determinations of quality changes that will need to be monitored in fresh-cut materials, such as chlorophyll loss and browning. The collaborator also visited the USDA–ARS facility in Beltsville, Maryland and actively participated in the food safety conference and stakeholder advisor board meeting with other team members.