Sep. 9, 2009 - Aug. 31, 2012Award Number
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis ObispoAmount Awarded
Keith Vorst, PhD
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Singh, J., Brown, J., Ryser, E., Marks, B.Summary
Pre-harvest sources of microbial contamination of are numerous and extremely varied, and there are currently no microbial reduction strategies to completely ensure the safety of fresh-cut leafy greens at the time of consumption. It is therefore imperative that precut greens be maintained at their proper storage temperature from the moment they are packaged through retail purchase, to minimize exposure to Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other food-borne pathogens. In the work being proposed here, active wireless sensors will be used to monitor, in real time, the temperature fluctuations that occur during the commercial transportation of fresh-cut leafy greens. Various distribution systems will be employed in the study. The data will be used to develop and validate a mathematical model which will be capable of predicting changes in E. coli O157:H7 growth and/or survival during commercial distribution of these products. The proposed research will therefore identify and assess problems that occur during the transportation of fresh produce between processing facilities and retailers. This information is critical for establishing the best handling practices for precut produce and for determining scientifically-based "best-used-by" dates to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. It will also be used as a basis to provide training for packaging and distribution professionals who wish to prevent food-borne illness through the monitoring of "at risk" product during transport and distribution. Ultimately, this research will result in precut vegetables that not only have extended shelf-life but which are safer for consumption.