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An Ozark Regional Pilot Program to Manufacture Economical, Value-Added Products Qualifying for USDA Certified Organic Status

Investigators
Shabatura, J
Institutions
Sea Star International LLC
Start date
2010
End date
2011
Objective

The fresh organic foods market, and specifically the organic poultry market, is in dire need of organic antimicrobials. Many chemical sanitizers that are used in conventional poultry processing are restricted for use in certified organic processing plants (ORMI). Antimicrobials that will both meet the rigorous federal guidelines for antimicrobials and also meet standards for certified organic need to accomplish two things. First, these antimicrobials are needed to help make organic food safer from pathogens like Listeria and Salmonella which will minimize potential for food borne illness; and second, these antimicrobials are needed to minimize the growth of spoilage organisms, to provide a much needed increase in shelf-life. The value of the U.S. pecan crop in 2006 was $322 million at an average price of $1.13 per pound. A state-by-state profile of pecan values (2007) shows: Arkansas, $2.7 M; Missouri, $1.5 M; Oklahoma, $27 M; and Texas, $75.3 M. Unfortunately, neither the USDA nor other unbiased sources keep production and sales figures for USDA certified organic tree nuts. Confidential information from our collaborator puts the volume of certified organic pecan shells in a single state, Missouri, at more than 50 tons of organic pecan shells. The creation of an organic antimicrobial made from organic pecan shells, would meet these needs for the organic poultry industry for an effective antimicrobial, as well as create a ready market for small growers of organic pecans. Our Phase I Objectives are fourfold:

(1) Obtain organic pecan shells from our contributing partner, an organic farmers' pecan growers' organization

(2) Construct a lab-scale liquid smoke extraction unit and obtain yield projections;

(3) Test the produced liquid smoke for activity against two common infectious microbes (Salmonella and Listeria) on poultry food systems;

(4) Run mass spectrometry samples of produced liquid smoke to identify any potential of carcinogens.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
We propose to improve the sustainability and profitability of small organic pecan farmers by developing an agricultural enterprise from their pecan shell waste that will produce organic, value-added, specialty antimicrobials--specifically to address the needs of organic poultry industry. Liquid smoke generated from organic pecan shells represents the ideal combination of a highly effective organic antimicrobial that can be produced in large quantities and low cost. It can be used not only reduce/eliminate food pathogens but, just as importantly, safely extend the shelf life of fresh organic products, such as poultry. Our long-term goal for this pilot regional project is to build a small business that engages a network of small farms, including organic pecan growers, small organic poultry processors, and organic retailers that can serve as a successful economic blueprint for similar rural small farmer communities across the nation.

APPROACH:
Traditionally, liquid smoke is generally recognized as a safe (GRAS) food ingredient. Recent research has identified that chemical components in liquid smoke are effective against food borne pathogens. The antimicrobials chemicals in liquid smoke can also be separated from the ""smokey flavor,"" yielding an antimicrobial that would be virtually tasteless on foods. Producing liquid smoke from pecan shells will aide small farmers in managing the tremendous volume of shell waste from their crop production and produce a high demand, value-added product. In addition, the carbon waste from this proposed liquid smoke manufacturing has high potential value for use as activated carbon in filtration systems desiring an organic carbon product. Task 1. Obtain samples of organic pecan shells that are representative of a season's production that are being contributed as ""grant-in-aid"" for this research. Task 2. Engineer and construct a laboratory-scale liquid smoke generator with the capabilities of varying the heating times and temperatures of the liquid smoke generation system. This will allow us to conduct in-depth, longer term testing than is possible in a commercial facility. Task 3. Calculate the yields of value added products, mass balance, feasibility of each combination by collecting initial, mid-stream and late-stream production of liquid smoke from each combination Task 4. Screen the antimicrobials for Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) and compare the efficiency of selected organic antimicrobials against Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in poultry model food systems. Confirm by GC/MS that the samples of pecan shell liquid smoke meet commercial guidelines for liquid smoke.

PROGRESS:
2010/06 TO 2011/11
Target Audience: This project was directed at basic research on natural antimicrobials for members in the food industry interested in moving toward less synthetic chemicals in their products.
Changes/Problems: We have added additional commercial goals for the Phase II project, but have had no major changes in direction or problems. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? This project provided excellent professional development opportunities for Dr. Babu who was able to leverage his work on this project to help him qualify for a teaching and research job at a University. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Results have been disiminated in face-to-face presentations to industry, presentations at professional meetings and publications in peer reviewed journals. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
ARKK-2010-00181
Accession number
221786
Categories
Listeria
Bacterial Pathogens
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game
Nuts, Seeds