Summary of Awards to Date

Evaluation of sanitizing treatments for sizer carriers in stone fruit packinghouses

Date

Jan. 1, 2016 - Dec. 31, 2016

Award Number

2016-441

Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded

$100,062.00

Investigator

Steven Pao, Ph.D.
California State University, Fresno

Co-Investigator(s)

Erin Dormedy, Ph.D., California State University, Fresno

Summary

Ensuring the safety of fresh fruit is a top priority of fresh produce packinghouses. The aim of this one-year research project is to evaluate and improve sanitizing treatments for sizer carriers in stone fruit packinghouses. The project will not only describe the potential for sizer carriers to harbor pathogens and allow for their growth under different environmental conditions, but will also define a set of sanitizers and application methods that represent the greatest promise for evaluation at the commercial level. Environmental sampling will be performed in active commercial packinghouses to determine natural microbial loads on fruit contact surfaces of sizer carriers. Subsequently, laboratory inoculation studies will be performed to determine the growth potential of foodborne pathogens on fruit sizer carriers under varied humidity and temperature. Furthermore, the potential of clean-in-place (CIP) sanitization will be evaluated by applying no-rinse sanitizers (steam and aerosol antimicrobial chemicals) to the sizer carriers. Results from this study potentially will be applicable to diverse fresh fruit packinghouses for preventing pathogen cross-contamination in produce packing operations. Findings and recommendations will be reported and/or disseminated through industry meetings and technical publications.

Technical Abstract 

This proposal aims to evaluate and improve sanitizing treatments for sizer carriers in stone fruit packinghouses. The primary objectives of this one-year project are 1) To evaluate natural microbial loads on fruit contact surfaces of sizer carriers; 2) To evaluate the growth potentials of foodborne pathogens on fruit sizer carriers; and 3) To evaluate potential clean-in-place (CIP) sanitizing treatments for fruit sizer carriers.

Environmental sampling will be performed in active commercial packinghouses to determine natural microbial loads on fruit contact surfaces of sizer carriers based on total microbial, psychotropic (cold tolerating and thriving microbes), yeast and mold, and total coliform counts. Subsequently, laboratory inoculation studies will be performed to determine the growth potentials of Salmonella and Listeria on fruit sizer carriers under varied environmental conditions. Furthermore, the potential of CIP sanitization by treating the sizer carriers with no-rinse sanitizers (including dry steam and antimicrobial aerosols) will be investigated.

We anticipate that data from this study will help to identify effective approaches and/or justify for further process development and validation studies on practical and cost-effective sanitizing treatments for sizer carriers. The results of this study potentially will be applicable to diverse fresh fruit packinghouses for preventing pathogen cross-contamination in fresh produce packing operations.