Australia’s Center for Produce Safety is funding a research team at Drexel University who are working to develop a specific treatment to kill dangerous pathogens on fresh produce. This new treatment is a cold plasma wash water treatment as cold plasma is proven to be effective at inactivating pathogens in water in a rapid manner. The ultimate goal of the project is to design a plasma-based wash water management system for minimally-processed fresh produce to eliminate cross-contamination.
The researchers at Drexel University are also teaming up with SmartWash Solutions and Sunterra Produce Traders East in the research process. The project is being funded from January 2020 to December 2021. More information about the research and the project can be found on this document provided by the Center for Produce Safety.
Next steps in the project
The project has been underway for some time, and researchers are moving on to validate the technology through a prototype model. The prototype model will use a 100-gallon tub with a plasmatron electrode submerged inside. In order to validate the research, plasma-treated water will be used to wash produce that is contaminated with strains of E. coli and other produce that is not contaminated. After washing, the produce and the wash water will be tested for pathogens.
This testing will be used to determine the rate of inactivation. Other investigations will include looking at if there are any quality changes to the produce after being washed.