Sep. 1, 2008 - Aug. 31, 2010Award Number
Center for Produce SafetyAmount Awarded
Mark Morgan, Ph.D.
Linton, R., Burke, M.Summary
Today, produce safety is the number one concern of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has always been a top priority for the fruit and vegetable industry from production through consumption. The overall goal of this project is to improve safety and shelf-life of fresh and minimally-processed fruit and vegetables through the effective application of a microbial reduction treatment system using chlorine dioxide (CD) gas. Since chlorine dioxide is commonly used to treat drinking water and is approved in aqueous form to treat poultry, meat, and fruits and vegetables, we anticipate that FDA approval of this technology should be straightforward. This project will provide a critically needed intervention strategy to control microorganisms that pose safety hazards in fresh produce. Past research at Purdue with CD gas has focused on determining treatment conditions required to inactivate pathogens in laboratory-based systems. The main focus of this project is the engineering design and evaluation of a commercial scale system that can be used within a food plant environment. Our approach is to better identify industrial needs through a stakeholder group, determine important operational procedures of a CD treatment system, and evaluate potential food safety and quality impacts of the treatment on produce. Initially, a stakeholder advisory group will assist with the operational criteria necessary for successful commercial implementation. Once the system is constructed, we will evaluate its effectiveness for inactivation of key produce pathogens (E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, L. monocytogenes), using a non-pathogenic surrogate organism, on four different produce surfaces (tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupes, peppers). To further ensure safety, chemical residues will be measured to ensure they are within acceptable limits. Additional produce quality measurements will be made to determine the effect on product shelf-life. Successful implementation of this technology will have a profoundly positive economic impact on producers and distributors in the specialty crops industry. Consumers should be positively impacted by improved safety of fresh and minimally-processed produce.