Summary of Awards to Date

Non-fouling food contact surfaces - prevention of biofilm and surface-mediated cross-contamination

Date

Jan. 1, 2019 - Dec. 31, 2020

Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded

$272,324.14

Investigator

Boce Zhang, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts

Co-Investigator(s)

Yanuang Luo, Ph.D.

Summary

Post‐harvest preventive control is a critical research topic for the produce industry because  post‐harvest handling is an essential stage in supply chain regarding food safety. A practical  preventive control will not only make a great impact on public health but also on produce  industry’s long term profitability. Despite previous interest in fouling of mainstream FDA-approved food contact substances (FCS), there has not been a comprehensive evaluation of  non‐fouling properties of any FCS, or the practicality of industrial sanitization procedures for  the produce industry. We propose to fill this gap and develop an applicable post‐harvest preventive control approach to enhance the non‐fouling  properties of FDA‐approved FCS against Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) biofilm. We will: 1) evaluate non‐fouling properties of existing FDA‐approved FCS; 2) enhance FCS performance by simple and cost‐effective  physical/topographical modification without altering the chemical composition; 3) evaluate  whether the top‐performing FCS are compliant with sanitary designs for the fresh produce  industry; and 4) validate the findings at a fresh‐cut processing pilot plant. Project outcomes will  provide scientific information  that  will  support  sanitary design of packing, holding, and  processing equipment/devices, coatings and coating modifications to simplify  cleaning/sanitization, and to prevent pathogen attachment and biofilms on FCS for new and retrofitted equipment.  

Technical Abstract

Sanitary design and sanitization are critical steps to help ensure food safety and prevent pathogen  cross‐contamination mediated by Food Contact Substances (FCS). In response to CPS RFP priority 1.1.3  (Lm preventive controls) and 1.3.1 (Preventive controls for packing and holding operations), this project  will develop an applicable intervention strategy to further enhance the non‐fouling properties of FDA-approved FCS against Lm biofilm. Specifically, we will 1) evaluate 304/316 stainless steel, plastic, and wood substrates and a series of  FDA‐approved FCS for their non‐fouling properties against Lm and other normal flora biofilm formers unique to the fresh produce industry; 2) enhance FCS performance through simple and cost‐effective  physical modification of surface microscale topography. Original and enhanced FCS will be further screened to identify top‐performing FCS that prevent Lm biofilm under simulated industrial processing  condition; and  3)  determine which of the top‐performing FCS are consistent with industrial use, including material properties and integrity, and sanitization efficiency. Project outcomes will provide  scientific information to the industry in selecting materials to support sanitary design of packing, holding, and processing equipment and apparatus, coatings and coating modifications to simplify cleaning and  sanitization, and to prevent pathogen attachment and biofilm formation on FCS for both new and retrofitted equipment.