New Study from Institute for Food Safety and Health at Illinois Tech Uncovers Benefits of New Sanitization Techniques in the Processing of Raspberries

Findings Suggest That Treating Raspberries with Chlorine Alternatives May Help Reduce the Risk of Foodborne Illnesses such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A, and Listeria monocytogenes

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Chicago, IL — May 1, 2019 —

A study released from the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) suggests that new techniques in the processing of frozen raspberries can further reduce the risk of certain foodborne illnesses. The study is the first of its kind to investigate the efficacy of health-conscious chlorine alternatives in the elimination of norovirus, hepatitis A (HAV) and Listeria monocytogenes.

Results of the study suggest that sanitizing treatments, such as peroxyacetic acid (PAA), could contribute to a reduced risk of contamination before raspberries are frozen and packaged through the Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) process. Currently, the raspberry industry uses chlorine spray as its primary sanitation method, and while there have been no known reports of bacterial contamination of the fruit in the United States, the groundbreaking study includes the first data around the effectiveness of both chlorine spray and PAA spray in the inactivation of norovirus, HAV and Listeria monocytogenes.

“Our mission at IFSH at Illinois Tech is to continually seek to improve upon the processes we use to ensure food safety,” said Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., director, Center for Nutrition Research, IFSH at Illinois Tech. “While the dietary benefits of this fruit are evident, as demonstrated in our most recent findings around of their use in adults with prediabetes, this research is designed to ensure that the food industry as a whole is handling the packaging and distribution of raspberries in the safest way possible.”

The study, published in the Journal of Food Protection, also showed that sanitizing agents such as PAA decayed at a slower rate, further ensuring the safety of the fruit for longer periods of time. According to the findings, while both chlorine and PAA treatment initially reduced norovirus and Listeria risk by less than 1.0 log, the fruit treated with PAA experienced an additional reduction by 0.6 and 3.0 log in the two contaminants respectively. While the PAA-treated raspberries had a significant effect on the inactivation of norovirus and Listeria monocytogenes, neither PAA treatment nor chlorine spray were found to have an impact on Hepatitis A.

The research team was led by Dr. Kaiping Deng, Ph.D., of the Center for Processing Innovation – in collaboration with Dr. Burton-Freeman’s Center for Nutrition Research.

“This work is a great example of food safety experts working together with nutrition scientists to provide data on the best ways to maintain safety of the foods we want people eating more often,” said Deng.

IFSH is a one-of-a-kind applied food safety and nutrition research consortium comprised of Illinois Tech faculty and staff, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the food industry. In collaboration with the FDA, the Institute provides stakeholders with the opportunity to develop and exchange knowledge, experience and expertise in the areas of food safety, food defense, food processing and nutrition.

To read the entire study, visit the Journal of Food Protection at https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/full/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-377.

About Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused, research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.