A Coating Has Been Invented to Prevent Produce Contamination
Texas A&M University has created a dual-action coating to prevent produce contamination. A common rule of thumb is to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating to kill bacteria. Produce is one category of foods deemed at high risk for bacteria because both the food itself and the food-contact surfaces used are breeding grounds for bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
Once one item of produce is contaminated with bacteria, it can infect other produce and the food-contact surfaces through cross-contamination. This process not only increases the amount of bacteria, but increases the chances of human infection. The spread of the bacteria can also create mutations of bacterial strains, and at times lead to antibiotic resistant bacterial strains.
An investigation by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that bacteria from a multitude of “families” were present on fresh produce, with several factors resulting in the proliferation of different strains. The findings bring up more questions than answers, leading to the single most important question – how can we prevent the spread, and mutations, of bacteria that are introduced into the human food-chain by produce?
The Chemical Engineering College of Texas A&M University took on the challenge of fighting bacteria on produce, and in the process has created a coating for use on food-contact surfaces with an ultimate goal of preventing bacteria growth from farm to table. The coating can be used on conveyer belts, collection buckets, rollers, and other surfaces that come in contact with produce. The coating is germicidal, killing all bacteria and germs it comes into contact with. It is also hydrophobic, repelling water off of whatever object the coating is on. Without water, the majority of bacteria cannot survive and will be unable to contaminate produce.
By using the dual-action coating, bacteria will not survive on food-contact surfaces, which should in turn decrease the rate of bacteria growth on produce thorough cross contamination.
If approved for use, this dual-action coating has the potential to prevent foodborne illness-causing bacteria from spreading, and mutating, and thereby successfully diminishing the amount of food poisoning cases.