New, potent anti-microbial wash developed

June 25th, 2008 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 25 (IANS) Scientists have developed a new anti-microbial wash that kills Salmonella and E. coli more effectively and speedily in vegetables, fruits, poultry products and meats. Made from inexpensive and readily available ingredients that are recognised as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the new wash is expected to replace chlorine.

At present, a chlorine wash is most widely used to reduce harmful bacteria levels in food products, but it has its limitations. For one, it does not kill all microbes.

Chlorine is also toxic at high concentrations, may produce off-flavours and undesirable appearance of certain food products, and it can only be used with specialised equipment and trained personnel.

In addition, chlorine may be harmful to the environment.

“This new technology is effective, safe for consumers and food processing plant workers, and does not affect the appearance or quality of the product,” said Michael Doyle of Georgia University, who invented the wash.

“It may actually extend the shelf-life of some types of produce,” added Doyle.

In recent years, there have been several outbreaks of food-borne illnesses that are being partly attributed to the fast-paced distribution of food.

For instance, raw tomatoes recently caused an outbreak of salmonellosis that affected people in at least 28 states in the US and in neighbouring Canada.

Doyle is an internationally recognised authority on food safety whose research focuses on developing methods to detect and control food-borne bacterial pathogens at all levels of the food continuum, from the farm to the table.

The new anti-microbial technology, developed by Doyle and colleague Tong Zhao, uses a combination of ingredients that kills bacteria within one to five minutes.

It can be used as a spray and immersion solution, and its concentration can be adjusted for treatment of fragile foods such as leafy produce and more robust foods such as poultry.

It can also be used on food preparation equipment and vehicles that transport food.

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