. As consumer demand for fresh produce continues to grow, so do concerns by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about foodborne illnesses and foodborne disease outbreaks. Postharvest wash is a critical control point in fresh produce processing for reducing or eliminating pathogens and other field-acquired contaminants that can result in such outbreaks. Current methods of post-harvest washing typically rely on chlorine-based sanitizers, which provide less than 100% efficacy in removing pathogens and are generally acknowledged to have negative environmental and worker safety impacts. Due to such concerns, certain European countries have banned the use of chlorine as a sanitizing technique for fresh produce. One alternative sanitizing agent being adopted with greater frequency is ozone gas. Ozone, in both its gaseous and aqueous phases, is generally recognized as safe by the FDA and has been shown to effectively reduce microbial contamination and pesticide residue; however, worker safety and environmental concerns still exist when ozone is not properly managed. Additionally, ozone?s poor solubility and the high cost of ozone generators have contributed to its limited adoption by the agriculture industry. En Solucin is developing a novel method which utilizes unique cavitation nozzles and air to generate nano-sized bubbles of ozone gas at the point of postharvest wash. Unlike traditional macro-sized bubbles from existing technologies, the nanobubbles produced by the En Solucin methodology have the remarkable ability to remain stable in high concentrations for months at a time. Worker safety is greatly improved as the ozone does not outgas to the environment, but rather, reverts back to oxygen while in the solution. This keeps more ozone in aqueous form and out of the worker environment than traditional generation methods, greatly enhancing system efficiency. The technology developed by En Solucin also has implications on power and water management, as the automated method reduces the amount of water required in washing and facilitates the reuse of water. During the Phase I project, En Solucin will fully validate and further develop its technology for application in postharvest washing in consultation with a pilot farm partner and with experts in food safety, nanotechnology, applied science, agricultural workplace, health and safety and sustainable agriculture practices. In Phase II, En Solucin will move forward with field testing of its technology to determine the degree to which the technology presents an improvement over existing sanitizers in terms of safety to workers and the environment, cost, impact on the product, and consumer acceptability.

Public Health Relevance

. Existing postharvest wash processes for fresh produce provide less than 100% efficacy in eliminating pathogens and pesticide residues that result in foodborne illnesses and are generally acknowledged to have negative environmental and worker safety impacts. En Solucin?s novel method of automated ozone nanobubble generation provides a chemical-free postharvest sanitizing method that increases efficacy in pathogen and pesticide residue reduction while addressing shortcomings of the current methods.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Brown, Tashea
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En Solucion, Inc.
United States
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