Researchers at the University of Arkansas have discovered some new ways to greatly inhibit the presence of pathogens in food.
According to a recent study, infusing chicken meat with a combination of organic acids (acetic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric) and select plant extracts (from grape seeds and green tea) can drastically reduce the amounts of E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella Typhimurium that may be present.
Not suprisingly, even better results were obtained when the expirimental technique was coupled with small amounts of irradiation. In this regard, the researchers believe that a combination of organic acids and plant extracts, coupled with very small amounts of irradiation, could ultimately provide the optimal amount of protection against a wide range of food-borne illnesses.
According to Navam Hettiarachchy, a UA food science professor who supervised the project, "we want to determine the least amount of plant extracts that we can use, and the least amount of irradiation dosage, to get the best inhibitory effect."
Although research is continuing, Hettiarachchy has confirmed that at least one poultry company has expressed interest in the project. In turn, to achieve the maximum food safety benefit, Hettiarachchy also remains "hopeful that, with time, the public will become aware of irradiation processing so that they accept [the technology]."
Although we'll leave it to others to interpret those tea leaves, we will, at the very least, continue to report on new developments.