• Modeling becomes an important approach to a diversity of problems encountered in the food industry. Models will allow foroptimization of food processes, resulting in better process control. Thus, product development and processing may beimproved, with increased process efficiency. As a result, food quality will be improved, with decreased health risks andincreased consumer satisfaction. Escherichia coli O157:H7 is clearly a public health concern, since this microorganism hasbeen associated with foodborne outbreaks from consumption of spinach, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables. Since currentproduction and processing practices cannot ensure pathogen-free fresh and fresh-cut produce, effective food safetyinterventions are needed for implementation throughout the production, processing, and distribution of these foods. On August22, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule that allows the use of ionizing radiation to make freshiceberg lettuce and fresh spinach safer and last longer without spoiling. Many researchers have shown that irradiation killspathogens or markedly reduces pathogen counts. We at Texas A&M University have established a sound research program infood safety engineering with emphasis on the application of electron beam irradiation. However, there is still work to do, since abag of baby spinach leaves may not receive the dose in a uniform manner, leaving some parts of the food untreated. We areconfident our intervention strategy will provide successful treatment of fresh and fresh-cut produce. The overall objective of thisproposal is to develop an integrated protocol for improved pathogen inactivation at maximum retention of fresh and fresh-cutproduce quality attributes. The central hypothesis for the proposed research is that ionizing radiation, if it is applied correctly andin combination with dose-reduction strategies, such as anti-microbial agents (cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, etc.) and/or modifiedatmospheric packages, is the best option. Additionally, a quantitative assessment of both the expected benefits and expectedcosts of the various irradiation technologies in a risk-analytic framework can provide support investments in these technologies.We plan to test the central hypothesis and accomplish the overall objective of this proposal by pursuing the following twospecific objectives: (1) Determine the best dose-reduction strategies to combine with irradiation to treat fresh and fresh-cut fruitsand vegetables (2) Establish the most cost effective technology evaluated in (1), using quantitative risk analysis approach

date/time interval

  • 2016 - 2021