Licence deal for rapid pathogen killing technology

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food processing Food Bacteria Food safety

A new technology that can kill foodborne pathogens in a minute has been licensed to an anti-bacteria product manufacturer, according to the US university that developed it.

The technology was invented by scientists based at the Center for Food Safety (CFS) in the University of Georgia (UGA) and is targeted at bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.

Gene Gama, technology manager at the UGA’s Research Foundation told that a recently signed licence agreement with Health Pro enables the development of a range of products from a wash, spray, immersion solution and additive based on the UGA technology.

He claims that the products will be available to food processors in the near future and can be used on equipment and transportation vehicles or directly on foods such as leafy greens, meats and poultry.

The technology, explained Gama, can destroy pathogens in one minute through the disruption of the cell walls of microorganisms and through interference with their metabolism.

Efficacy trials

He said that CFS scientists and the licensee are collaborating with companies representing various sectors within the food industry to assess the innovative technology at these facilities.

“Testing of the technology in specific food processing settings is necessary to adjust factors such as concentration and duration of wash to optimize efficacy,”​ he continued.

FDA approval

According to Gama, the technology is comprised of a combination of at least two compounds that are already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the food industry and as food additives.

“They [the compounds] are considered by the FDA as Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS). When mixed, they don’t react with each other, rather they display a synergistic effect reaching bactericidal levels around 99.99999%,”​ he said.

Specific uses or claims may require FDA or other regulatory approval, added Gama.

He said that research on the technology took several years, with scientists testing a multitude of reagents and methods to address food contamination from farm to fork.

“The components are used in very low concentrations and do not change taste, appearance, texture of food items, even items as delicate as sprouts and fresh leafy spices, such as parsley. The technology was tested in a multitude of vegetables, fruit and meats,”​ he said.

Wide use

Gama said that the technology has also shown remarkable effects against biofilms, which can prove stubborn to remove in certain areas within food processing facilities. However, he maintains it is not only limited to bacteria, with tests indicating that protozoa are also killed by the wash.

And he maintains that in some food processing applications, products based on the UGA technology may be more effective, easier and safer to use than concentrated chlorine or bleach washes.

The licence agreement with Health Pro is effective in select countries including the US, said Gama.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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