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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #440709

Research Project: Detection and Disinfection of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) on Food Contact Surfaces

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-42000-021-010-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Jul 31, 2023

Objective:
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) may cause diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and other debilitating symptoms for several days or more that often result in an incapacitating symptom, and this research focuses on developing techniques and solutions that support the detection and disinfection of ETEC. The objective is to determine optimal parameters for detection and disinfection of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) and other pathogens on food-contact surfaces using a Contamination Sanitization Inspection and Disinfection (CSI-D) system based on UV-C and UV-A fluorescence imaging technique.

Approach:
The Contamination Sanitization Inspection and Disinfection (CSI-D) system is a handheld device for preventing pathogenic cross-contamination in food preparation and serving facilities, based on an ARS-patented technique originally developed by the EMFSL sensing technology team. A commercial CSI-D prototype has recently been developed by EMFSL’s CRADA partner who is the ARS patent licensee, to provide an innovative solution encompassing visualization of contamination using fluorescence imaging, disinfection of contamination using UVC illumination, and documentation of cleanliness. The Food Protection Lab at Chapman University will test disinfection effectiveness by using the CSI-D system to deliver UVC light at different energy levels based on varying exposure time and distance from surfaces. In stage 1, different concentrations of ETEC will be prepared in Petri dishes to determine the optimal settings for disinfection. In stage 2, the CSI-D system will be tested on various food-contact surfaces (e.g., stainless steel, glass, and wood) to evaluate the effectiveness of the automated disinfection control function, which uses a rangefinder to measure distance to the surface and calculate exposure time required for complete disinfection. In stage 3, the fluorescence imaging function of the CSI-D system will be tested to identify biofilms on the food-contact surfaces and to differentiate between biofilms spiked with ETEC and those without the pathogen.