Summary of Awards to Date

Reducing fresh produce microbiological safety risk through innovative home washing technologies.

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Date

Sep. 1, 2008 - Aug. 31, 2011

Award Number

GEO2008-01553

Funding Agency

USDA - CSREES

Amount Awarded

$599,414.00

Investigator

Yen-Con Hung, Ph.D.
University of Georgia

Co-Investigator(s)

Frank, J., Hurst, W., and Bruhn, C.

Summary

Recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have been linked to the consumption of contaminated fresh produce. Consumers are asking if there is anything they can do at home to ensure the safety of fresh produce. Simply washing produce before consumption is one critical process consumers can use to eliminate or minimize the risk of foodborne pathogen contamination. However, many consumers are unaware of some new simple sanitary technologies that can be easily adopted to help ensure produce safety at home. Studies have shown that both electrolyzed (EO) water and ozonated water can kill or remove foodborne pathogens from produce during washing. Currently, small home scale and low cost machines to generate EO and ozonated water are commercially available and could be purchased by consumers to use at home. However, properties and effectiveness of these washing solutions generated from these home scale devices have not been tested. Therefore, the first goal of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of various washing solutions (EO and ozonated water, FIT, bleach, and tap water) produced under various home use conditions for their efficacy in killing foodborne pathogens on lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupes, broccoli, and green onions. Consumers will be invited to evaluate these washing technologies to assess their opinion on acceptance and adoption of these technologies. Educational materials for consumers and training materials for extension and 4-H agents to help consumers increase their awareness of the importance of sanitary practices at home to improving fresh produce safety will be developed.