Escherichia coli

Fresh-cut produce is commonly washed in flumes with water containing sanitizers. Cross-contamination of pathogens between contaminated and uncontaminated produce can occur during commercial washing. Yet, the produce industry is without an approach to understand the performance of their washing systems. In the project named “Developing validation strategies for fresh-cut produce washing”, we evaluated the risk of E. coli O157:H7 cross-contamination by using small-scale and bench-scale lettuce wash experiments;  determined optimal approaches for monitoring and maintaining preventive controls in a lettuce washing process; and analyzed E. coli O157:H7 cross-contamination in the commercial-scale washing flume.  

Project outcomes provide the fresh produce industry

  1. A framework for the industry to validate their washing systems
  2. Tested and safe surrogates for commercial applications
  3. An understanding of the critical limits for sanitizer usage
  4. Verification of monitoring tools available for use during produce washing

The approach enables the industry to validate, monitor and adjust their washing step to consistently minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

Key Staff Members and Contact Information

Research Assistant Professor, IIT
708-563-8170
Scientist (Microbiologist), Assistant Professor, IIT
708.563.8824
Director, Center for Processing Innovation, Associate Professor, IIT
708.563.8277
Director, Business Development, Adjunct Industry Professor, IIT
708.563.8175
IFSH Associate Director, Professor of Food Science, IIT
708.563.8287
Principal Scientist/Associate Professor of Biology, IIT
708.563.2980