Foodborne illnesses are dangerous and costly for consumers and food suppliers alike. While there are many preventive measures that can be taken throughout the supply chain, staying ahead of bacteria and preventing food contamination is still challenging and expensive. In an effort to make produce safer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and scientists from the Agricultural Research Service are working on a new type of produce packing material that would kill E.coli and other pathogens when used in transport and storage.

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Semi-Permeable, Pathogen Killing Packaging 

Using chlorine dioxide and packaging design modifications, researchers are working on ways to create small packs that would kill harmful bacteria. The packaging is specifically designed with a semi-permeable, or porous membrane, that would allow chlorine dioxide gas to slowly escape, preventing the produce from being harmed by chemical burning, and serve as an effective method for killing pathogens.

No Effects To Taste

Scientists working on the project have found that fruit transported with the chlorine dioxide packaging contained ten times fewer bacterial and fungi than fruit transported without the packaging. Taste tests revealed no effects to the taste of the fruit. While chlorine dioxide is already in use as a produce sanitization method, the pouches could make the decontamination process more contained and efficient.

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Prevent Illness And Global Food Waste

Now researchers are looking at ways the packaging could be marketed to produce wholesalers and packers here in the United States. Production of pouches themselves cost just a few cents. The innovation also may help in considerable food waste reduction, as roughly a quarter of fruits and vegetables produced globally are disposed of due to spoilage caused by microbial contamination.


What are your thoughts on this method for preventing food contamination? Comment and let us know what you think.

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