Testing the Ability for Novel “Green” Technologies to improve Beef’s Safety and Shelf Life
Development and Validation of Novel "Green" Technologies for Improving the Safety and Shelf Life of Beef
Roopesh Syamaladevi (University of Alberta) firstname.lastname@example.org
Xianqin Yang, Oscar Lopez Campos, Nuria Prieto (AAFC Lacombe), Kim Stanford (University of Lethbridge), Lynn McMullen (University of Alberta)
|In progress. Results expected in March, 2028
Properly installed and maintained food safety interventions are very effective at producing beef carcasses with extremely low microbial counts in commercial beef packing facilities. The big risk is that beef will become re-contaminated as carcasses move through the plant to be fabricated into smaller cuts. For example, conveyor belts are hard to clean; metal housings and rollers provide a place where pathogenic or spoilage bacteria can hide, grow, produce protective biofilms, and re-contaminate beef. Some cleaning processes use chemicals that may corrode equipment. Some bacteria may also form spores that are impervious to cleaning processes (then go on to germinate in vacuum packs and cause blown pack spoilage).
In an earlier BCRC proof-of-concept study, these researchers found that two minutes of ultraviolet-C light from a light emitting diode (LED) led to a 99.9% reduction in E. coli biofilms on polystyrene surfaces. Applying an activated cold plasma (ACP) water mist for one minute reduced biofilms on food contact surfaces by 99%. This project will follow up on those preliminary results.
- Validate novel dry (e.g., Ultraviolet-C LED treatment) and wet (e.g., ACP activated water mist) surface sanitation methods
- Develop and validate novel dry (e.g., ACP activated chilled air) and wet (e.g., ACP activated water mist/spray) carcass chilling methods with enhanced microbial inactivation (“PlasmaChil)”
- Develop and scale-up a treatment unit together with industry
What They Will Do
This research is still too early-stage to be conducted in a commercial packing facility.
To mimic hard-to-clean conveyor belts, they will grow biofilms involving heat and acid resistant E. coli as well as clostridia spores (under both wet and dry conditions) on polystyrene and stainless steel (comparing clean to contaminated conditions). ACP (delivered in both a water mist and dry air) and UV-C light will be compared to a control treatment. The ability of these interventions to inactivate bacterial cells in biofilms will be assessed. There is evidence that ACP may be even more effective at low temperatures, so ACP will be delivered to lean and fat tissue in mist vs. dry air to mimic wet- or dry-chilling. Storage life (bacterial numbers), shelf life (quality) and safety (STEC) will be compared. Finally, they will compare different treatment times, humidities, temperatures, etc. to optimize the process for pilot trials.
Developing effective cleaning strategies that reduce the need for hot water would significantly reduce the energy and water required to clean commercial packing facilities.