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Bio-based antimicrobial coatings for reducing risk of cross-contamination during harvesting


Cross‐contamination of fresh produce during harvesting is a major food safety risk. This risk can result due to persistence of pathogens on equipment surfaces, sanitation challenges due to complexity of equipment design and risks of introducing pathogens from soil, contaminated produce or humans. Incremental changes in sanitation of harvesting equipment may not be adequate to address these risks. To address these diverse risks during harvesting, we propose to develop flexible antimicrobial coatings based on a combination of selected food grade ingredients with a commonly used chlorine based sanitizer. The central hypothesis is that selected food grade ingredients charged with chlorine can form flexible antimicrobial coatings to prevent cross‐contamination of fresh produce from both exogenous sources of pathogens such as soil, as well as residual/persistent population of pathogens on equipment surfaces. The specific objectives are to (a) demonstrate effectiveness of forming antimicrobial coatings on harvester conveyor belts and cutting knifes using simple spraying or dip coating methods; (b) evaluate antimicrobial and anti‐biofilm activities of the coatings on selected harvesting food contact surfaces and demonstrate efficacy of the approach to reduce cross‐contamination in a pilot scale operations simulating harvesting conditions and (c) field testing of the antimicrobial coating solution using harvesting knifes to demonstrate effectiveness in reducing build‐up of microbes on harvesting knifes during a shift. The success of this will project provide a novel field deployable approach to manage the food safety risks during harvesting operations by effectively controlling cross‐contamination risks from food contact surfaces such as harvesting knifes and conveyor belts.

Nitin, Nitin; Young, Glenn
University of California - Davis
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