University of Illinois scientists report that a combination of chlorine washing and ultrasound can reduce E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria on spinach by more the 99.99 per cent.
U of I professor of food science and human nutrition Hao Feng said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking for proposed technologies that can achieve a four- to six-log reduction in pathogen cells. A six-log reduction would achieve a millionfold reduction in pathogenic bacteria. The food-processing industry can now achieve a one-log or tenfold reduction. In comparison, the U of I technique yields a four-log reduction.
“Combining technologies is the key to bridging the gap between our current capacity and what USDA would like to see. The use of ultrasound exposure during chlorine washing gives the industry a way to significantly enhance microbial safety,” Feng said in a release.