Research – How to kill pathogens on seafood

Food Processing

Controlled release antimicrobial film makes seafood safer.

Seafood may be contaminated with bacterial pathogens, such as Vibrio and Salmonella, which can survive long-term freezing conditions. Vibrio naturally occur in marine environments and Salmonella can contaminate seafood during production or processing and both are concerns for the seafood industry.

However, a solution may be at hand. A biodegradable, edible film made with plant starch and antimicrobial compounds may control the growth of foodborne pathogens on seafood, according to a group of international researchers.

Catherine Cutter, professor of food science, Penn State, explained, “We have the ability to develop a film with antimicrobial activity that can kill foodborne pathogens on food surfaces. Given the recent outbreaks that we have seen with a number of food products, coming up with something that can be used by the industry to kill microorganisms on the surfaces of food is a noble area of research to investigate.

Vibrio and Salmonella are somewhat susceptible to freezing,” Cutter said. “So, if you treat bacterial cells with antimicrobials and then freeze them, the approach can be more lethal.”

Freezing does not kill bacteria. However, when freezing food, ice crystals can form from the water in food. The ice crystals, Cutter said, can act like “daggers” and pierce the bacterial cell wall, causing damage to the cell.

Researchers used a blend of thermoplastic starch, a biodegradable polymer made from tapioca powder and a gelatin coating containing antimicrobials known as Nisin Z and lauric arginate (LAE).

 

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