Summary of Awards to Date

Electrostatic spray treatments with organic acids and plant extracts to disintegrate biofilms and decontaminate fresh produce.

Read Full Publication...


Apr. 1, 2008 - Mar. 31, 2011

Award Number


Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded



Navam Hettiarachchy, Ph.D.
University of Arkansas


In light of recent contaminated produce outbreaks, reduction of incidence of food-borne outbreaks related to fresh produce is made a national priority by FDA. Several approaches are in practice to overcome pathogen contamination on fresh produce. However, the commercial methods available do not completely eliminate pathogens attached to the surface and internal tissue. Non-uniform attachment of antimicrobials on the surface leaves blank spots where microorganism can grow and attach to the surface. We are proposing an electrostatic antimicrobial spray to effectively kill/inhibit the growth of pathogens and disrupt bacterial attachments. This research is focused on electrostatic spray for efficient delivery of organic acids, plant extracts, or combinations to kill/inhibit human pathogens Salmonella spp / E. coli O157:H7 on the surface of spinach, lettuce, sprouts, cantaloupe cubes, and tomatoes. These produce will be inoculated with Salmonella / E. coli O157:H7 and sprayed with organic acids/ grape seed/ green tea extracts, or combinations. Log number of survivors will be evaluated during storage. Inhibition of bacterial attachments, disruption of attached bacteria, and killing/inhibiting of internalized pathogens will also be investigated. Treatments will be optimized by statistical method to identify maximum antimicrobial activity. Color, texture, and sensory attributes of the non-inoculated produce will also be evaluated for the treatments that show maximum antimicrobial activity. Success of this study will provide an alternative efficient technology to overcome the outbreaks of Salmonella/E.coli 0157:H7 to the fresh produce industry.