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Dr. Keith Warriner, University of Guelph, and Dr. Tatiana Koutchma, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada
January 15, 2019
There have been three outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections linked to contaminated romaine lettuce within the last 12 months affecting over 200 people. Since 1995 there have been over 40 outbreaks linked to leafy greens although other produce types such as apples, cantaloupes and soft fruit have also been implicated. There are various routes from production through to the end-user by which pathogens become associated with fresh produce. For large scale outbreaks the typical source of pathogens is contaminated irrigation water with pathogens being spread during post-harvest processing. To date, the main interventions used to enhance the microbiological safety of fresh produce is through good agricultural practice (GAP), testing and post-harvest washing. However, none are effective as demonstrated by the on-going foodborne illness outbreaks. Consequently more effective treatments are required and those based on UV show promise. For example, UV treatment of irrigation water and water-assisted UV post-harvest washing is a further technology. The main challenge with UV is to access the shaded area on produce surfaces. To overcome this limitation, UV based methods based on Advanced Oxidative Process have been developed and currently being applied on a commercial scale. Additionally, research was conducted on application of multiple wavelengths LEDs against common food pathogens on surface of fresh produce. Based on risk analysis of recent outbreaks and produce production chain, this webinar will discuss new approaches to enhance it safety by using UV light through advanced oxidation, water assisted washing and UV LED interventions.