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An Integrated Approach To Eliminate Cross-Contamination During Washing, Conveying, Handling And Packaging Of Fresh Produce


<li>Characterize the risk of cross-contamination of fresh produce as a function of flow conditions in a washer and optimize the washer design and process parameters using a combination of experimental and numerical simulation approaches to reduce the risk.</li>
<li>Develop innovative biosensing approaches to rapidly assess the microbial response to sanitation operations.</li>
<li>Develop a point of use biosensor for a rapid detection of bacterial pathogens in wash water</li>
<li>Evaluate novel sanitizers technologies based on plasma treated water for in-situ generation of free radicals in wash water and their comparison with conventional sanitizers on reducing microbial load and produce quality.</li>
<li>Engineer "self-regenerating antimicrobial coatings" for conveyor and storage containers to reduce the risk of cross contamination</li></ul></p>

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<li>To develop quantitative understanding of bacterial attachment to fresh produce during washing, the research methods will include standard microbial plate counting, optical imaging, mathematical modeling and statistical analysis.</li>
<li>For developing a process control to optimize concentration of sanitizers in wash water, the research approach will utilize magnetic, electronic and optical spectroscopy and imaging approaches. To improve sensitivity of these spectroscopy and imaging approaches, specific contrast media will also be developed that can accurately measure the intracellular oxidative stress in bacteria. The results of oxidative stress measurements will be correlated with reduction in microbial load.</li>
<li>To detect pathogens in wash water and fresh produce, the research approach is based on biochemically tagging of secondary phages, nanofabrication of photonic arrays, mathematical modeling and experimental validation of phage entrapment in nanophotonic wells and detection using the photonic arrays.</li>
<li>To develop an alternative sanitation approach, non-equilibrium discharge in water (moving or stationary) will be generated by applying 20 kV pulse (for ignition) and supplying 3 kV DC current (to sustain the arc) between two conducting pipes separated by a 2mm gap. The plasma activated water will be tested for washing fresh produce and the data will be analyzed using standard microbiological culturing methods and statistical analysis.</li>
<li>Rechargable antimicrobial coatings will be developed based on optimization of polymer design and engineering of chlorine binding monomers. These engineered materials will be tested using a combination of physical, chemical and microbiological testing methods.</li>
<li>For the education function to train current and future professional, the proposed research plan will use a combination of formal academic courses, professional workshops and practicum experiences.</li></ol></p>

Tikekar, R.V.
University of California - Davis
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