Southeast universities team on postharvest organic food safety

03/04/2013 10:23:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee have teamed to improve the safety of organic produce and do it naturally.

They began their study, “Alternative Post-Harvest Washing Solutions to Enhance the Microbial Safety and Quality of Organic Fresh Produce,” last fall.

The four-year project is funded in part by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, according to a news release.

The project's goal is to find effective, yet organic, treatments to reduce foodborne illnesses caused by E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella.

“To improve microbiological safety of organic produce, there is an urgent need to develop washing practices that not only enhance sanitation effectiveness but also fulfill the requirement of organic fresh produce,” Qixin Zhong, a UT food science associate professor and project lead, said in the release.

The researchers also will evaluate the economic facility of their work and its effects on the shelf life of organic produce.

The group is working with cooperating organic producers, who will provide feedback.

In addition, the group will share its findings through webcasts, written fact sheets and a series of workshops in Tennessee and North Carolina.

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Roland Zeidler    
Maine  |  March, 07, 2013 at 01:20 PM

I am very interested in all outcome and updated results of the study. We run a commercial kitchen / fresh fruit and vegatable business. The information will be very usefull.

sepideh khorasany    
university  |  March, 08, 2013 at 03:25 AM

I am interested in subject.I agree that work on it.

Donna Schilde    
March, 08, 2013 at 07:34 AM

This is exactly the kind of crap that needs to be cut in the US budet!!!!! How to wash produce? Are you serious. It's called WATER!

John D    
NW Washington  |  March, 08, 2013 at 04:35 PM

Donna, Yes and no!! For the consumer, when the produce is going to be used right away, washing with water is GREAT!!!!! For a grower or packer, who need/wants the produce cleaned for the consumer (many consumers don't want dirt on their lettuce or what ever) simple washing with water may cause more problems than can be imagined. "How to wash and maintain some shelf life" for most produce presents some REAL problems. The industry isn't dealing with one head of lettuce but likely thousands at a time and proper washing, drying and ultimately packaging can make the difference of near overnight disaster or a good number of days of good holding/selling quality. Most consumers have NO IDEA what has gone into getting that great looking, high quality head of lettuce they are tearing into for dinner salad tonight, right there in their hands. Just how long ago was that in the field? Where is the field? What sort of distribution system did it have to go thru to get to the store so that one could/would be happy picking it out of the display, paying hard earned money for it, taking it home and be happily and willing to serve it to the family? It is important that consumers keep in mind what all has happened up stream with that produce before it is ever seen for sale. The farmer, the packer, the wholesaler, trucker and retailer ALL want you to be happy with the item. Research has shown that running peaches thru a low concentration of garlic oil water will give far greater shelf life than even an unwashed peach. I HOPE that the research being done by this group are looking at this sort of alternative for stability and quality, things that are affordable to everyone in the food chain. Great eating and good health.

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