The long-term goal of this study is to identify and develop antimicrobial technologies and compounds approved for sanitization of organic food processing equipment and organic fresh produce. <P>
The specific objectives of this proposal are to: <ol>
<li> Determine the antimicrobial efficacy of electrochemically activated (ECA) water, bacteriophages and sodium carbonate that could serve as surface sanitizers and fresh produce disinfectants against indicator bacteria and foodborne pathogens. <li> Assess the extent of compatibility with organic standards for those conditions of ECA water, phages and sodium carbonate that have shown superior antimicrobial performance. <li> Verify the antimicrobial efficacy of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate-based ECA water in field trials of organic farms and processing and retail facilities. <li> Assess the feasibility of adopting those technologies by organic farmers and processors. </ol>
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Sanitizing is a critical step in the processing of wholesome and safe foods, but organic production systems currently lack organically produced sanitizers. This proposal offers a unique approach not only to identify sanitizers that could be compatible with organic practices, but also to seek and develop biocides that can be produced organically.
APPROACH: We plan to accomplish the four objectives outlined above by a combination of research and extension activities. For the first part we will use a series of experiments and for the latter a number of trials and surveys will be conducted with organic processors involved with this project. The execution of the project will be dependent on the active contribution of stakeholders of the Advisory Panel and the group of participating producers, cooperatives and farmers. <BR> <BR> RESEARCH COMPONENT <BR> 1. Electrochemically Activated Water General project <BR> Objectives 1 and 2 will be addressed and the specific aims will be: <BR> (1) Determine the optimum generation conditions of sodium bicarbonate (SB)-based ECA water to kill pure cultures of relevant foodborne and environmental bacteria. <BR> 2) Assess the effectiveness of neutral sodium chloride (NaCl)-based ECA water and SB-ECA water to inactivate biofilms of a variety of foodborne pathogens and environmental contaminants. <BR> (3) Determine the antimicrobial effect of NaCl- and SB-ECA water to reduce the microbial count of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella inoculated on the surface of fresh vegetables. <BR> (4) Assess the impact of NaCl- and SB-ECA water on the quality of fresh vegetables. <BR> <BR> 2. Sodium carbonate <BR> General objectives 1 will be the focus of this part, and the specific aims will be:
<BR> (1) Determine the optimum concentration and pH of sodium carbonate to kill pure cultures of bacteria. <BR> 2) Assess the effectiveness of sodium carbonate solutions to inactivate biofilms of bacteria. <BR><BR> 3. Bacteriophages <BR> General objectives 1 and 2 will be targeted by this part of the project. The development of bacteriophages as sanitizers will include three specific aims: <BR>
(1)Develop a diverse collection of bacteriophages capable of infecting bacteria. <BR> (2)Identify groups of at least three bacteriophages capable of killing high titers of specific foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria. <BR> (3)Determine the spectrum of activity of bacteriophages specific against E. coli O157 and Salmonella strains. (4)Determine the effectiveness of a diverse bacteriophage mixture to inactivate multiple bacterial species in liquid media and on stainless steel surfaces. (5)Determine the effect of specific bacteriophage mixtures against E. coli O157 and Salmonella in fresh vegetables. <BR> <BR> EXTENSION COMPONENT <BR> 4. Electrochemically Activated (ECA) Water <BR> General project Objectives 3 and 4 will be addressed and the specific aims that will be pursued in this part of the project will be: <BR> (1)Verify the antimicrobial efficacy and the impact on quality and shelf life of fresh vegetables of the optimum generation conditions for organic biocides produced via ECA water as compared to traditional methods used on and in organic farms and processing/retail facilities. (2)Assess the feasibility of adopting ECA water technology by organic farmers, processors and retails/coops. (3)Determine the compatibility of NaCl- and SB-ECA water with current organic practices by providing an assessment according to criteria specified by NOP for petitions to the National List.