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New UGA invention kills foodborne pathogens


July 25, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

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NEWS HIGHLIGHT

New UGA invention kills foodborne pathogens
University of Georgia researchers have
developed an effective technology for reducing contamination of
dangerous bacteria on food.

University of Georgia researchers have developed an effective technology for reducing contamination of dangerous bacteria on food.

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The new antimicrobial wash rapidly kills Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 on foods ranging from fragile lettuce to tomatoes, fruits, poultry products and meats. It is made from inexpensive and readily available ingredients that are recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The new technology, which has commercial application for the produce, poultry, meat and egg processing industries, is available for licensing from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., which has filed a patent application on the new technology.

Currently, a chlorine wash is frequently used to reduce harmful bacteria levels on vegetables and fruits but, because of chlorine’s sensitivity to food components and extraneous materials released in chlorinated water treatments, many bacteria survive. Chlorine is toxic at high concentrations, may produce off-flavors and undesirable appearance of certain food products, and it can only be used in conjunction with specialized equipment and trained personnel. In addition, chlorine may be harmful to the environment.

“We can’t rely on chlorine to eliminate pathogens on foods,” said Michael Doyle, one of the new technology's inventors and director of UGA’s Center for Food Safety. “This new technology is effective, safe for consumers and food processing plant workers, and does not affect the appearance or quality of the product. It may actually extend the shelf-life of some types of produce.”

The new antimicrobial technology, developed by Doyle and Center for Food Safety researcher Tong Zhao, uses a combination of ingredients that kills bacteria within one to five minutes from application. It can be used as a spray and immersion solution, and its concentration can be adjusted for treatment of fragile foods such as leafy produce, food preparation equipment and food transportation vehicles.