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.