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Wang, Luxin
University of California - Davis
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Temperature changes or abuses in food cold chains lead to compromised food safety and quality loss. Based on the currently available literature, temperature abuses at the retail and consumer levels are more frequent and significant compared to other steps involved in the cold chain. Among all contributing factors in foodborne outbreaks, temperature misuse ranked Top 1. In the United States, approximately 12% of food waste is caused by inappropriate refrigeration. To control temperature at the retail or consumer level, flaked ice or ice slurries have been widely used for perishable foods during transportation and retail displays. In recent years, essential oil supplemented ice or ice slurries as well as ice made with acidic electrolyzed water (AEW) had been developed. While this antimicrobial ice demonstrated effective control over pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, there are several hurdles hindering the use and adoption of the antimicrobial ice. These drawbacks include: 1, smell and off-flavor of essential oil after exposing to light and oxygen; and 2, the melting of ice causes physical and chemical damage to food quality (e.g. the pH of AEW ice is pH 2.3). Unless these concerns are addressed, antimicrobial ice products would not be widely adopted. At the consumer's level, reusable ice packs have also been used for a long time. These reusable ice packs come in different shapes and colors. Since they are reusable, these ice packs are considered very economically friendly. However, there are concerns associated with reusable icepacks. Among them, the cross-contamination caused by reusable ice packs or food containers has been the major one if cleaning and sanitizing are not done properly. Until now, packaged ice remained the top temperature control tool used by retail stores and consumers. The safety of packaged ice has received increasing attentions. In a recent study, the microbial quality of 250 bags of packaged ice, which were purchased from retail locations and self-service ice vending machines in Georgia were evaluated. Based on the results, 6% of the ice samples contained unsatisfactory levels of heterotrophs and 37% of these samples contained unsatisfactory levels of coliforms. One sample even tested positive for Salmonella.As described above, temperature abuse at the retail display and consumer levels is one important cause of food loss and waste. Although ice, antimicrobial ice, and reusable ice packs have been developed, drawbacks associated with these products prevented the further improvement of temperature control at the retail and consumer level. New temperature control tools that can overcome these drawbacks are urgently needed. To address this need, the goal of this proposal is to develop green, reusable, and self-cleanable functional "ICE" cubes using plant-based by-products to facilitate the temperature control at the retail and consumer level. There are three objectives of this proposal:Manufacturing soy protein isolate-based hydrogel "ICE" cubes with desired durability and reusability;Preparation of self-cleaning hydrogel "ICE" cubes with incorporation of photo-active vitamin K derivatives and controlled release of biocidal reactive oxygen species in the hydrogels;Evaluate the impact of the newly developed "ICE" on food quality by using seafood as model products.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants