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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #435689

Research Project: Microbial Control While Maintaining Quality of Fresh-cut Produce through A Pre-treatment with Silver Dihydrogen Citrate and SmartWash Organic

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-009-021-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 15, 2018
End Date: Oct 14, 2023

The objective of this research 1. Compare the microbial lethality of this new pretreatment process (SmartWash Boost) to other common industry practices such as chlorine buffered with citric acid and the SmartWash system without the pretreatment; 2. Compare a range of alternative microorganisms to the more common generic E. coli in terms of suitability for microbial lethality studies in produce to show that the selected species is suitable for the intended purposes; 3. Illustrate the importance of tiered concentrations and low inoculation levels when studying produce processing systems; 4. Evaluate product quality and shelf life of treated fresh-cut vegetables during 5 °C storage.

1). Based on the configuration of most existing fresh-cut processing systems, the cutting step has been identified as the most suitable stage for application of Smart Wash Boost as pre-treatment. With the approval of the ARS, the Cooperator will first modify the existing cutter located in the ARS-BARC pilot fresh-cut processing facility to allow for the spray of the SmartWash Boost chemistry onto fresh-cut produce during cutting. This modification will not alter the functionality of the cutter other than allowing the spray of Smart Wash Boost during the cutting of fresh produce. The cooperator will also provide the equipment and installation of the “SmartWash Boost” control system. 2). Once the pilot plant is equipped as needed for the experiment and ARS personnel are trained by Pure Bioscience and SmartWash to use the control equipment provided, the ARS team will proceed with evaluation of the efficacy of Boost treatment on pathogen reduction. This will include washing cut produce inoculated with BSL-1 level non-pathogenic strains of bacteria, including E. coli, Listeria innocua and other organisms that can serve as metrics of process performance. These studies will examine direct lethality on fresh-cut produce as opposed to cross-contamination control. 3) The effect of SmartWash Boost pretreatment coupled with the regular SmartWash treatment on reduction in the populations of inoculated bacteria will be compared with current industry standard sanitizer processing methods and the aforementioned SmartWash treatment without SmartWash Boost. 4). Produce quality and shelf life of fresh-cut products processed with and without Smart Wash Boost application will be evaluated at ARS FQL. The cut products will be stored at 5 °C for up to 14 days and product appearance, texture, and overall acceptance will be assessed by trained and untrained panels. 5). After these small-scale pilot studies of SmartWash Boost on fresh-cut food safety are completed, a smaller number of full scale trials will be conducted at the Cooperators pilot plant to verify scalability in phase II (budget and detailed program for phase II to be determined later).