Recent outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria contaminating widely consumed produce have been reported in the national media, with Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella among the leading pathogenic threats to food safety. Thermal treatments are not appropriate for fresh produce, and large scale irradiation is limited by cost. In response, we aim to develop a nanoparticle wash treatment with the capability of significantly reducing pathogenic bacteria associated with fresh or fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and which may be applied synergistically with a conventional chlorine wash. The success of such a treatment depends on improved understanding of nanoparticle-bacteria interactions. The high potency of the nanoparticles derives from the combination of high positive charge, antimicrobial peptide molecules attached on the surface, antimicrobial proteins encapsulated inside, and enhanced activity under applied electric fields. The proposed nanoparticle wash is a 'green technology' because it utilizes edible and naturally abundant materials, and has low environmental impact compared with the conventional chlorine wash. The research involves design, production and characterization of the enhanced nanoparticles, testing of the wash treatment in realistic food processing environments, and application to fresh cut leafy greens and tomatoes. Our study can provide guidelines for combining mild, biocompatible and energy efficient food safety methods synergistically in the design of a 'green' nanoparticle treatment step for improved safety of minimally processed fruits and vegetables.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/10 → 8/31/15|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))