Development of a New Antimicrobial Food Addtive/Sanitizer

Summary

The development of a new antimicrobial food additive, FaAST (Fatty acid Antimicrobial Sanitizer Technology) for the control and mitigation of foodborne pathogens.

Situation

Foodborne pathogens result in 9.4 million cases in the United States each year. Between the years 2009-2015, 5760 foodborne outbreaks occurred in the United States. Bacterial foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Shigatoxigenic E. coli (STEC) are major pathogens of concern to public health and the food industry. While meat, poultry and vegetables are well known vehicles of foodborne pathogens when not properly handled, the presence of the pathogens in ingredients such as wheat flour, seeds and nuts provide the food industry with new challenges for control of foodborne pathogens. Commonly used sanitizers include chlorine, lactic acid, peroxyacetic acid and antimicrobial ingredients include benzoic acid, citric acid and acetic acid and their derivatives. While these are effective against foodborne pathogens their use on contaminated raw ingredients such as wheat, nuts, produce and meats often do not result in complete or significant elimination. Interviews with food safety personnel from the industry further highlighted the need for an effective alternative to currently used sanitizers/antimicrobials. Quotes from interviews conducted were: “There is a need for more produce wash options that do not require a rinse step and meet regulatory standards for use on organic products.” “Consumers are asking for natural, ‘clean label’ foods but a lot of currently available clean label bacterial control products don’t work very well.” “If switching to a new antimicrobial product prevents even one recall, any costs associated with the transition would be worth it.” “No effective strategies currently exist for controlling bacterial contamination in baking mixes.”

Response

Research teams from the Center for Food Safety Dr. Govindaraj Dev Kumar and Dr. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez) and the Department of Food Science and Technology (Dr. Kevin mis Solval, Dr. Abhinav Mishra and Dr. Laurel Dunn) have collaborated to develop and validate a new antimicrobial- FaAST (Fatty acid Antimicrobial Sanitizer Technology) that is both effective against foodborne bacterial pathogens and versatile in its applicability. Testing of a prototype of FaAST against a mixture of three different Salmonella seroytpes resulted more than 6 log CFU/ml reduction (1 million Salmonella cells) in 5 minutes. The results were published in Nature Scientific Report and highlights the strong antimicrobial nature of the sanitizer. Since FaAST is derived from a fatty acid found naturally in fruits such as citrus and tomatoes, its application in foods and food contact surfaces is permissible. Research findings from studies to mitigate the survival and cross contamination of wheat by STEC and Salmonella during the tempering process have been presented at several scientific meetings and garnered industry interest. FaAST has been used as a liquid for washing produce, as a wax for coating produce as a powdered antimicrobial food additive and is being explored as a foam for dry sanitation.

Impact

Currently, the research team at the University of Georgia, Griffin is collaborating with several food industries (wheat, nut based snacks and an antimicrobial food additive manufacturer) to evaluate replacing their current sanitizers with FaAST. FaAST was one of the products selected by UGA I-CORPS program for training to bring the product to the market.

State Issue

Food Safety and Quality

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: International
  • County: Spalding
  • Location: Georgia Station, Griffin
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources

Author

    Dev Kumar, Govindaraj

Collaborator(s)

CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Diez-Gonzalez, Francisco
  • Dunn, Laurel L
  • Mis Solval, Kevin E
  • Mishra, Abhinav
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Research Impact