Summary of Awards to Date

Bio-based antimicrobial coatings for reducing risk of cross-contamination during harvesting

Date

Jan. 1, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2022

Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded

$307,872.00

Investigator

Nitin Nitin, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis

Co-Investigator(s)

Glenn Young, Ph.D., Gang Sun Ph.D.

Summary

Cross-contamination during harvesting is a major food safety risk. This risk may result due to persistence of pathogens on harvesting equipment and food contact surfaces or introduction of pathogens on harvesting equipment and food contact surfaces during harvesting from soil, humans or other environmental factors. The overall goal of this project is to develop field deployable food ingredient based antimicrobial coatings to manage cross-contamination risks during harvesting. These antimicrobial coatings are based on a combination of selected food grade ingredients with a commonly used chlorine based sanitizer. The proposed research plan will develop coating formulations that can be readily deposited on legacy equipment and diverse food contact surfaces includes plastic and stainless steel and maintain antimicrobial properties during a harvesting shift. These coatings will also be designed to be easily removable during standard sanitation procedures. The research plan will demonstrate effectiveness of these antimicrobial coatings to achieve over 3 log inactivation of persistent pathogens including their biofilms on the surface of knifes and harvester conveyor belt, prevent formation of biofilms during operations and reduce cross-contamination of the food contact surface. The research plan will also test these coatings in a field trial and develop cost estimates as well as evaluate any potential chemical residue form chlorine bound to the coating material or its byproducts on fresh produce. Success in this approach will provide a field deployable solution to address the challenges of cross-contamination during harvesting.

Technical Abstract

Cross‐contamination of fresh produce during harvesting is a major food safety risk. This risk can result due to persistence of pathogens on equipment surfaces, sanitation challenges due to complexity of equipment  design  and  risks  of  introducing  pathogens  from  soil,  contaminated  produce  or  humans.   Incremental changes in sanitation of harvesting equipment may not be adequate to address these risks. To address these diverse risks during harvesting, we propose to develop flexible antimicrobial coatings based on a combination of selected food grade ingredients with a commonly used chlorine based sanitizer. The central hypothesis is that selected food grade ingredients charged with chlorine can form flexible antimicrobial coatings to prevent cross‐contamination of fresh produce from both exogenous sources of pathogens such as soil, as well as residual/persistent population of pathogens on equipment surfaces. The specific objectives are to (a) demonstrate effectiveness of forming antimicrobial coatings on harvester conveyor belts and cutting knifes using simple spraying or dip coating methods; (b) evaluate antimicrobial and anti‐biofilm activities of the coatings on selected harvesting food contact surfaces and demonstrate efficacy of the approach to reduce cross‐contamination in a pilot scale operations simulating harvesting conditions and (c) field testing of the antimicrobial coating solution using harvesting knifes to demonstrate effectiveness in reducing build‐up of microbes on harvesting knifes during a shift. The success of this will project  provide  a  novel  field  deployable  approach  to  manage  the  food  safety  risks  during  harvesting  operations by effectively controlling cross‐contamination risks from food contact surfaces such as harvesting knifes and conveyor belts.