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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438672

Research Project: Development of Scanning-based Detection of Food Contamination and Mitigation for Biofilm Removal on Equipment Surfaces

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-009-015-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

The objectives of the research are: (1) design and develop non-destructive scanning devices that can scan large surface areas of foods for microbial, chemical, and biological contaminants with high throughput, and (2) identify novel antimicrobials for removal of multi-species biofilm of foodborne surfaces associated with fluid dynamics and surface properties.

Detection of food contamination is essential to effectively utilize interventions and minimize potential foodborne illnesses. Rapid food processing industry requires ultra-fast detection of low-level contamination, if any, using scanning technology. An ongoing study on evaluation of line-scan imaging technologies will be expanded to address the sensitivity and specificity of food contaminants. Multi-species biofilms (where foodborne pathogens form biofilm on equipment surface with natural bacteria present in food processing environment) are difficult to remove using commonly used sanitizers. The pathogens protected in multi-species biofilm can contaminate food during subsequent processing. Multi-species biofilms on food contact surfaces will be characterized using biofilm reactors. Novel sanitizers including eco-friendly plant-derived antimicrobials will be employed to remove multi-species biofilms on equipment surfaces as a function of fluid dynamics.