Jan. 1, 2011 - Feb. 29, 2012Award Number
Elliot Ryser, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
In response to continued outbreaks involving E. coli O157:H7 and other bacterial pathogens, the safety of fresh produce has now become a top priority. Although bagged salad mixes and other such products available in supermarkets have been commercially washed multiple times in various chemical sanitizers to minimize the risks from hazardous microorganisms, such practices will not totally ensure end-product safety. As product residues accumulate in the water during processing and reduce the effectiveness of commonly used commercial sanitizers, bacterial contaminants in this water are readily transferred to previously uncontaminated product. The study being proposed here will explore some of the water quality issues related to chlorine effectiveness with the goal being to identify several easily measureable water-related factors (example - the amount of lettuce debris in the water) that can be easily monitored by the industry to increase the effectiveness of chlorinated sanitizers.