Home > Researchers develop method that will make fresh produce 99.9% bacteria free

Researchers develop method that will make fresh produce 99.9% bacteria free

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article image Crop protectants ensure fresh produce is bacteria free and high in quality

Food scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a new method for eradicating E. coli bacteria from fresh produce.

Speaking to The News Gazette, Hao Feng, food processing professor, University of Illinois explains that the current method, which involves running fresh produce through a continuous chlorine wash, only removes 90 per cent of bacteria.

Although 10 per cent seems to be a small figure, if produce contains even a miniscule amount of bacteria it can pose serious health risks to those who consume it.

Feng explains that the process involves adding continuous, high-powered ultrasound to the chlorine wash process.

If and when the ultrasound operates at an intensity that is high enough to generate small gas bubbles in the liquid, an impressive 99.9 per cent of bacteria are removed from fresh produce.

The new technology has already been tested on spinach, lettuce and tomatoes, and Feng says that it could effectively remove bacteria from a range of other fresh fruits and vegetables.

It is of paramount importance that the consumer receives produce that is free from contamination, however at the same time there are a number of other things to consider, such as nutritional value, size and taste.   

The Surround range of crop protectants from AgNova Technologies are specifically designed to improve and maintain crop quality, as well as increase yield.

The crop protectants contain particle film, a unique technology that is made from modified particles of the naturally occurring material kaolin.

Co-developed by Engelhard Corporation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the technology is combined with water and sprayed directly onto crops where it forms a white coating.

Crops that are sprayed with the crop protectants report the following benefits:

  • Improved fruit colour and size
  • Protection from sunburn thanks to the white coating, which blocks UV rays
  • Reduced russetting, premature dropping and cracking of fruits
The white coating that the crop protectants produce weathers off naturally and it can be easily washed off, so there is no risk associated with consumers potentially consuming a product that is covered in the coating.

The crop protectants can be applied to a range of different crops, including:

  • Stone fruits
  • Olives
  • Citrus fruits
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers 
  • Pumpkins
  • Rockmelons
  • Pineapples
  • Field crops
These crop protectants help to ensure that the consumer receives produce that is reasonably sized and of a superior quality and taste as it is protected from those damaging UV rays that can typically wreak havoc on crops.  

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