Tag Archives: Avoiding food contamination with a durable coating for hard surfaces

University of Missouri – Columbia study: Avoiding food contamination with a durable coating for hard surfaces

24 Jul

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe Food Contamination: How Food Gets Contaminated – The Food Production Chain

It takes several steps to get food from the farm or fishery to the dining table. We call these steps the food production chain (see graphic). Contamination can occur at any point along the chain—during production, processing, distribution, or preparation.

Production

Production means growing the plants we harvest or raising the animals we use for food. Most food comes from domesticated animals and plants, and their production occurs on farms or ranches. Some foods are caught or harvested from the wild, such as some fish, mushrooms, and game.

Production means growing the plants we harvest or raising the animals we use for food.

Examples of Contamination in Production

  • If a hen’s reproductive organs are infected, the yolk of an egg can be contaminated in the hen before it is even laid.
  • If the fields are sprayed with contaminated water for irrigation, fruits and vegetables can be contaminated before harvest.
  • Fish in some tropical reefs may acquire a toxin from the smaller sea creatures they eat.

Processing

Processing means changing plants or animals into what we recognize and buy as food. Processing involves different steps for different kinds of foods. For produce, processing can be as simple as washing and sorting, or it can involve trimming, slicing, or shredding. Milk is usually processed by pasteurizing it; sometimes it is made into cheese. Nuts may be roasted, chopped, or ground (such as with peanut butter). For animals, the first step of processing is slaughter. Meat and poultry may then be cut into pieces or ground. They may also be smoked, cooked, or frozen and may be combined with other ingredients to make a sausage or entrée, such as a potpie.

Processing means changing plants or animals into what we recognize and buy as food.

Examples of Contamination in Processing

  • If contaminated water or ice is used to wash, pack, or chill fruits or vegetables, the contamination can spread to those items.
  • During the slaughter process, germs on an animal’s hide that came from the intestines can get into the final meat product.
  • If germs contaminate surfaces used for food processing, such as a processing line or storage bins, germs can spread to foods that touch those surfaces.

Distribution

Distribution means getting food from the farm or processing plant to the consumer or a food service facility like a restaurant, cafeteria, or hospital kitchen. This step might involve transporting foods just once, such as trucking produce from a farm to the local farmers’ market. Or it might involve many stages. For instance, frozen hamburger patties might be trucked from a meat processing plant to a large supplier, stored for a few days in the supplier’s warehouse, trucked again to a local distribution facility for a restaurant chain, and finally delivered to an individual restaurant.

Distribution means getting food from the farm or processing plant to the consumer or a food service facility like a restaurant, cafeteria, or hospital kitchen.

Examples of Contamination in Distribution

  • If refrigerated food is left on a loading dock for long time in warm weather, it could reach temperatures that allow bacteria to grow.
  • Fresh produce can be contaminated if it is loaded into a truck that was not cleaned after transporting animals or animal products.

Preparation

Preparation means getting the food ready to eat. This step may occur in the kitchen of a restaurant, home, or institution. It may involve following a complex recipe with many ingredients, simply heating and serving a food on a plate, or just opening a package and eating the food.

Preparation means getting the food ready to eat. This step may occur in the kitchen of a restaurant, home, or institution.

Examples of Contamination in Preparation

  • If a food worker stays on the job while sick and does not wash his or her hands carefully after using the toilet, the food worker can spread germs by touching food.
  • If a cook uses a cutting board or knife to cut raw chicken and then uses the same knife or cutting board without washing it to slice tomatoes for a salad, the tomatoes can be contaminated by germs from the chicken.
  • Contamination can occur in a refrigerator if meat juices get on items that will be eaten raw.

Mishandling at Multiple Points

Sometimes, by the time a food causes illness, it has been mishandled in several ways along the food production chain. Once contamination occurs, further mishandling, such as undercooking the food or leaving it out on the counter at an unsafe temperature, can make a foodborne illness more likely. Many germs grow quickly in food held at room temperature; a tiny number can grow to a large number in just a few hours. Reheating or boiling food after it has been left at room temperature for a long time does not always make it safe because some germs produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat.              https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/production-chain.html

Resources:

What is Food Contamination?                                                                                                       https://www.foodsafety.com.au/blog/what-is-food-contamination

Food poisoning                                                                                                                           https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20356230

Science Daily reported in Avoiding food contamination with a durable coating for hard surfaces:

In the future, a durable coating could help keep food-contact surfaces clean in the food processing industry, including in meat processing plants. A new study from a team of University of Missouri engineers and food scientists demonstrates that the coating — made from titanium dioxide — is capable of eliminating foodborne germs, such as salmonella and E. coli, and provides a preventative layer of protection against future cross-contamination on stainless steel food-contact surfaces.

The study was conducted by Eduardo Torres Dominguez, who is pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering in the MU College of Engineering, and includes a team of researchers from the College of Engineering and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Dominguez is also a Fulbright scholar.

“I knew that other researchers had developed antimicrobial coatings this way, but they hadn’t focused on the coatings’ mechanical resistance or durability,” Dominguez said. “In the presence of ultraviolet light, oxygen and water, the titanium dioxide will activate to kill bacteria from the food contact surfaces on which it is applied. Although the coating is applied as a liquid at the beginning of the process, once it is ready to use it becomes a hard material, like a thin layer of ceramic.”

Heather K. Hunt, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and one of Dominguez’s advisors, guided Dominguez through the process of finding, selecting, synthesizing and characterizing the titanium dioxide material — a known disinfecting agent that is also food safe.

“We picked this material knowing it would have good antimicrobial behavior, and we strengthened its mechanical stability to withstand normal wear and tear in a typical food processing environment,” said Hunt, whose appointment is in the Department of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering. “In addition to normal cleaning procedures, our coating can add an additional layer of prevention to help stop the spread of foodborne contamination.”

Once Dominguez developed the coating, Azlin Mustapha, a professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Food Science program and Dominguez’s other advisor, helped him optimize its antimicrobial, or disinfecting, properties. Matt Maschmann, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering, helped Dominguez optimize the material’s durability through hardness testing.

Mustapha is encouraged by the group’s progress as this could be a way to deter the spread of foodborne germs in a food processing environment.

“This will not only be helpful in the raw food processing lines of a processing plant but also ready-to-eat food lines, like deli counters, as well,” Mustapha said. “All surfaces in a food processing plant that come into contact with food are prone to be contaminated by foodborne germs spread by the handling of a contaminated food product….”                                                                                                                                        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200716111650.htm

Citation:

Avoiding food contamination with a durable coating for hard surfaces

Date:      July 16, 2020

Source:  University of Missouri-Columbia

Summary:

A new study by engineers and food scientists demonstrates that a durable coating, made from titanium dioxide, is capable of eliminating foodborne germs, such as salmonella and E. coli, and provides a preventative layer of protection against future cross-contamination on stainless steel food-contact surfaces.

Journal Reference:

Eduardo Torres Dominguez, Phong Nguyen, Annika Hylen, Matthew R. Maschmann, Azlin Mustapha, Heather K. Hunt. Design and characterization of mechanically stable, nanoporous TiO2 thin film antimicrobial coatings for food contact surfacesMaterials Chemistry and Physics, 2020; 251: 123001 DOI: 10.1016/j.matchemphys.2020.123001

Here is the press release from University of Missouri – Columbia:

NEWS RELEASE 16-JUL-2020voiding food contamination with a durable coating for hard surfaces

Coating developed by collaborative team of University of Missouri engineers and food scientists

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA

In the future, a durable coating could help keep food-contact surfaces clean in the food processing industry, including in meat processing plants. A new study from a team of University of Missouri engineers and food scientists demonstrates that the coating — made from titanium dioxide — is capable of eliminating foodborne germs, such as salmonella and E. coli, and provides a preventative layer of protection against future cross-contamination on stainless steel food-contact surfaces.

The study was conducted by Eduardo Torres Dominguez, who is pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering in the MU College of Engineering, and includes a team of researchers from the College of Engineering and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Dominguez is also a Fulbright scholar.

“I knew that other researchers had developed antimicrobial coatings this way, but they hadn’t focused on the coatings’ mechanical resistance or durability,” Dominguez said. “In the presence of ultraviolet light, oxygen and water, the titanium dioxide will activate to kill bacteria from the food contact surfaces on which it is applied. Although the coating is applied as a liquid at the beginning of the process, once it is ready to use it becomes a hard material, like a thin layer of ceramic.”

Heather K. Hunt, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and one of Dominguez’s advisors, guided Dominguez through the process of finding, selecting, synthesizing and characterizing the titanium dioxide material — a known disinfecting agent that is also food safe.

“We picked this material knowing it would have good antimicrobial behavior, and we strengthened its mechanical stability to withstand normal wear and tear in a typical food processing environment,” said Hunt, whose appointment is in the Department of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering. “In addition to normal cleaning procedures, our coating can add an additional layer of prevention to help stop the spread of foodborne contamination.”

Once Dominguez developed the coating, Azlin Mustapha, a professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Food Science program and Dominguez’s other advisor, helped him optimize its antimicrobial, or disinfecting, properties. Matt Maschmann, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering, helped Dominguez optimize the material’s durability through hardness testing.

Mustapha is encouraged by the group’s progress as this could be a way to deter the spread of foodborne germs in a food processing environment.

“This will not only be helpful in the raw food processing lines of a processing plant but also ready-to-eat food lines, like deli counters, as well,” Mustapha said. “All surfaces in a food processing plant that come into contact with food are prone to be contaminated by foodborne germs spread by the handling of a contaminated food product.”

The researchers said this is the first step needed toward future testing of the coating’s properties in a real-world environment. Although the team has not tested it for use against the novel coronavirus, Hunt and Mustapha believe their coating has the potential to aid in helping stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in a food processing environment because of its durability and disinfecting qualities. So far, it has shown to be effective against a strain of E. coli that can be deadly in people, and more work is being done to test the coating against other disease-causing bacteria.

The study, “Design and characterization of mechanically stable, nanoporous TiO2 thin film antimicrobial coatings for food contact surfaces,” was published in Materials Chemistry and Physics. Co-authors include Phong Nguyen at MU and Annika Hylen at St. Louis University. Funding was provided by the graduate fellowship program of the Fulbright Program and the Comision Mexico-Estados Unidos para el Intercambio Educativo y Cultural (COMEXUS). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

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Diana Rodriguez wrote Preventing Food Contamination which was Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH:

Unfortunately, you can’t spot bacteria-riddled food just by looking at it. And food can spoil, even if refrigerated, faster than you might think. Learning how food contamination happens, and how to keep bacteria out of your kitchen and your meals, can help keep your family safe.

What Kinds of Bacteria Are to Blame?

Certain types of bacteria are responsible for most food contamination in the United States:

  • Clostridium botulinum,which cause botulism, is found in canned, vacuum-sealed, or other packaged foods, as well as in garlic packed in oil.
  • Escherichia coli 0157:H7 ( coli)can be found in raw or undercooked ground beef, raw fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk, and apple juice, and can also be transmitted through human contact.
  • Salmonellais found in poultry, meat, unpastureurized milk and dairy, raw or undercooked eggs, and seafood, and may be transmitted by people who prepare food.
  • Staphylococcus aureuscan be found in any food handled by an infected person who has touched food with staph-contaminated hands.
  • Shigellacan be found in any food handled by a person touching food with hands contaminated with shigella-infected fecal matter.
  • Listeria monocytogenesis located in processed foods like deli and lunch meats and cheeses, hot dogs, some sausages, and unpasteurized milk and cheeses.
  • Clostridium perfringenscan be found in any food left at room temperature or on a warming tray or table for a significant amount of time.
  • Campylobacter jejuniis found in unpasteurized milk, poultry, shellfish, raw or undercooked meats, and contaminated water.

Many of these bacteria cause very uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea that can last from several days to more than a week. Without treatment, some of these bacteria (like Clostridium botulinium) can actually lead to death.

How Food Contamination Happens

The food we eat can be contaminated during any of the many steps it takes to get it from the farm to our table. Food contamination can occur when:

  • The animal that is eventually slaughtered for meat has bacteria in its intestinal tract.
  • Meat becomes contaminated with bacteria during the slaughter.
  • Produce is washed or watered with bacteria-contaminated water.
  • A hen’s ovaries are infected with bacteria.
  • Bacteria in ocean water contaminate the fish that live there.
  • Humans handle meat and other foods with unwashed hands during processing.
  • Food processing equipment is contaminated.
  • The same utensils are used for multiple foods, transferring bacteria from contaminated food to uncontaminated food.
  • Food is left out of the refrigerator and sits at room temperature for more than a few hours.
  • Food is left in a refrigerator for too long.

If you think there’s any chance you have food that has been contaminated, don’t risk eating it — throw it out right away….                                                                                                                                             https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-home/preventing-food-contamination.aspx

Resources:

How to Prevent Food Poisoning                                                                                                https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/prevention.html

Types of Food Contamination                                                                                                         https://study.com/academy/lesson/types-of-food-contamination.html

How to avoid food poisoning this summer:  Summer is high season for foodborne illnesses. Use these expert tips to avoid them.                                                                   https://www.today.com/health/food-poisoning-symptoms-signs-how-tell-if-you-have-it-t187071

What is E. Coli?                                                                                                                               https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/what-is-e-coli#1

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