Enhancing the Safety of Eggs and Fresh Produce by Novel Ultra-fine Bubble Technology

Project Overview

LNE20-412R
Project Type: Research Only
Funds awarded in 2020: $148,874.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Connecticut
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Project Leader:
Dr. Abhinav Upadhyay
University of Connecticut

Commodities

  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), greens (lettuces)
  • Animal Products: eggs

Practices

  • Animal Production: meat product quality/safety, preventive practices
  • Crop Production: food processing, food processing facilities/community kitchens, food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, technical assistance, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem, Novel Approach and Justification: The foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes cause over 2 million annual illnesses in the U.S, largely due to consumption of contaminated fresh produce and poultry products. Current decontamination strategies using quaternary ammonium compounds or chlorine wash are not completely effective in reducing pathogen load on food products. Additionally, these chemicals pose significant health hazards for farmers that include the risk of cancer. This project aims to develop novel strategies for improved produce and egg decontamination. Our approach combines the antimicrobial efficacy of Generally Recognized as Safe status antimicrobial gas Ozone with novel ultra-fine bubble technology to develop safe and rapid-acting sanitizers for egg and produce washing.

    Hypothesis and Research plan: We hypothesize that ultra-fine ozone (UFO) bubble water would significantly reduce Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes on eggs and fresh produce. The efficacy of UFO bubble water will be more than currently used antimicrobials (e.g. chlorine and peracetic acid). Our research plan consists of three stages. In the first stage, UFO bubble water will be generated using a dual-machine system consisting of an ozone generator and bubble mixer followed by characterizing the quality and stability of UFO bubbles. The PI has successfully standardized this stage. In the second stage, the efficacy of UFO bubble water in rapidly killing Salmonella on eggs and Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes on produce (lettuce, cantaloupes) will be investigated. Preliminary research indicates that washing with UFO bubble water is effective in killing Salmonella on eggs and cantaloupes as early as 5 minutes at room temperature. No change in the color/appearance of eggs and cantaloupes was observed. In the third stage, the effect of organic load on the antimicrobial efficacy of most effective UFO bubble treatment-time combinations will be tested.

    Outreach plan: As part of our extension/outreach objective, Dr. Shuresh Ghimire and Dr. Indu Upadhyaya will conduct workshops and technology demonstrations for extension personnel (train-the-trainer) in the Northeast to update stakeholders on outcomes of the project and to receive their feedback. They will also interact directly with organic and non-organic vegetable growers, egg-producers in CT and Northeast to understand their perceptions towards ultra-fine bubble technology-based wash solutions.

    Project Objective: Our goal is to develop a novel washing method using ultra-fine ozone (UFO) bubble water to improve the microbiological safety of eggs and produce in the Northeast.  The first objective will investigate the efficacy of UFO bubble water washing in killing Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes on eggs and produce. The second objective will implement an extension/outreach program to disseminate our findings to stakeholders and extension personnel for field adoption of the technology.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Our goal is to develop a novel washing method using ultra-fine ozone (UFO) bubble water to improve the microbiological safety of eggs and produce in the Northeast.  The first objective will investigate the efficacy of UFOB water washing in killing Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157 and Listeria monocytogenes on eggs and produce. The second objective will implement an extension/outreach program to disseminate our findings to stakeholders and extension personnel for field adoption of the technology. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.