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Developing and promoting scientific-proven practices for safer microgreen production


The primary objective of this project is to augment the research capacity of West Virginia State University's Agricultural and Environmental Research Station (WVSU-AERS) in advancing fundamental knowledge related to strategies for enhancing microbial food safety within Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), with a specific emphasis on microgreen production.The investigation will delve into innovative methods to mitigate the presence of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes associated with microgreen recalls. Gaining insights into their growth, survival, and biofilm formation across various substrates and storage conditions will establish the necessary foundation for developing intervention methods aimed at minimizing safety risks.Furthermore, the project seeks to fortify the extension capacity of WVSU's Extension Service by creating a seamless conduit from research-based findings to the implementation of best practices. The dissemination of information will be conducted in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) and tailored to meet the unique demands of non-traditional agriculture in the state.The proposed three-year working plan outlines three specific objectives and their corresponding activities:Objective 1: Evaluate common seed decontamination techniques employed by small-scale growers and explore photodynamic inactivation (PDI) for reducing foodborne pathogens.Activities:1a) Evaluate commonly used seed decontamination techniques among small-scale growers.1b) Investigate photodynamic inactivation as a method for seed decontamination.1c) Explore the application of photodynamic inactivation during microgreen growth.Objective 2: Determine the growth, survival, persistence, and biofilm formation of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella under diverse growing and storage conditions.Activities:2a) Determine the growth kinetics of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes on hydroponic and hydrogel-based substrates in microgreens.2b) Assess the level of native microflora and inoculated Salmonella and L. monocytogenes in microgreens, with and without a growing substrate, within clamshell containers.2c) Investigate the influence of growing substrate and sanitizing agents on biofilm formation and effectiveness.Objective 3: Develop and disseminate scientifically-based knowledge on safe microgreen production practices.Activities:3a) Develop educational and promotional materials for microgreen cultivation.3b) Conduct workshops for the general public.3c) Provide instructional guidance to promote safe microgreen cultivation practices among growers, in partnership with the WVDA.By addressing these objectives, the project aims to contribute valuable insights that enhance food safety practices in microgreen production, facilitating the seamless dissemination of knowledge to benefit both researchers and growers alike.

Jung, Yangjin
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