Researchers to Develop Self-Sanitizing Surfaces

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have recently received a four-year, $488,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to create a “self-sanitizing” top layer for food processing surfaces such as counters and conveyors.

In preliminary research published in the Journal of Food Protection from Journal of Food Protection in 2008 (71(10):2042-2047), a team led by Julie Goddard, PhD, assistant professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, reported that halamine-infused surfaces could achieve a 5-log reduction for a number of organisms relevant to food quality, including Listeria and E. coli.

“When you modify the surface of food processing materials, like some plastics and stainless steels, you can introduce halamine into just the surface layer,” Dr. Goddard said in an interview with Food Quality. “Halamine complexes chlorine very strongly, so every time you rinse the surface with bleach, it recharges the layer’s existing antimicrobial power. “

With the new AFRI grant, Dr. Goddard’s team will improve the technology and adapt it to other polymers, such as gasket material, and to stainless steel. “We’ll also improve the activity and stability of the halamine,” she said. “Our early studies are very promising. You could potentially apply this coating to existing materials; otherwise, it would be important to look at where in the plant it would be most useful and fit new portions of materials into existing ones.”

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