Published on 05/12/10

UGA scientists recognized for development of food wash

By Helen Fosgate

Two University of Georgia scientists have been awarded the UGA Inventor’s Award for their creation of a food wash that significantly reduces the risk of food-borne illness.

Mike Doyle and Tong Zhao invented a wash that kills pathogens faster and more effectively on foods than any currently available wash product. Doyle is a professor with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and director of the Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga. Zhao is a UGA CAES assistant research scientist at the center.

For foods and food preparation surfaces

Doyle and Zhao invented a food wash that also kills pathogens on fruits and vegetables. It can also be used to clean kitchen counters, cutting boards and food processing equipment in commercial settings.

The wash is many times more powerful on foods than commercially available chlorine-based antimicrobials, yet its components are generally regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Union food industry.

Kills in a minute

The antibacterial wash kills food pathogens one minute after application. It has been successfully tested against more than 30 different harmful microbes, including E. coli O157, Salmonella, B. anthracis and Yersinia pestis. The wash doesn’t affect the appearance, flavor or odor of foods; and it increases the shelf life of produce.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food-borne pathogens cause more than 76 million illnesses every year in the U.S. alone, hospitalizing some 300,000 people and killing more than 5,000. The technology, which is expected to be incorporated into FIT® Food and Vegetable Wash products by the UGA Research Foundation licensee this year, can also be used in food processing and transportation facilities, hospitals and restaurants—and potentially as a food additive in butters, creams and ground meats.

The invention represents more than a decade of research by Doyle and Zhao in developing food safety interventions for consumers and the food industry.

Helen Fosgate is a public relations coordinator for the University of Georgia Vice President for Research.

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