Electrostatic spraying using organic acids could offer the fresh produce industry more effective protection against E. coli than current sanitation methods, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Science. Relatively simple and quick, the process can access most/all parts of produce surface and offer protection from food pathogens.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) has been associated with several outbreaks in minimally processed foods. Spinach and lettuce pose higher food-safety risks and recurring food recalls suggest the insufficiency of current disinfection strategies.
Researchers at the University of Arkansas investigated whether using electrostatic spraying to evenly distribute natural antimicrobials could be a more efficient and effective solution. Spinach and lettuce samples were sprayed electrostatically with the organic acids malic, tartaric and lactic acid and grape seed extract alone and in combinations, and for comparison, with phosphoric acid and pH controls with deionised water. During a 14-day storage period, malic acid/lactic acid and malic acid/lactic acid/grape seed extract combinations had the greatest decontaminating effect; while inorganic treatments showed promising effects, these were lower in comparison and compromised the color of the produce.
The researchers concluded the use of malic and lactic acids with or without grape seed extract can serve as effective antimicrobials when sprayed electrostatically, lowering the risk from post-contamination issues with spinach and iceberg lettuce. The application technology can be extended to improve the commercial food safety of other produce, fruits, poultry and meat.
Source: Food Product Design