Mike Doyle and Tong Zhao

Mike Doyle and Tong Zhao

Mike Doyle, professor and director, UGA Center for Food Safety, and Tong Zhao, assistant research scientist, invented a food wash that significantly reduces the risk of food borne illnesses. The wash kills pathogens faster and more effectively on foods than any currently available wash product. And, in addition to killing pathogens on fruits and vegetables, it can also be used to clean kitchen counters, cutting boards, and food processing equipment in commercial settings. It is many times more powerful on foods than commercially available chlorine- based antimicrobials, yet its components are generally regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Union food industry. The antibacterial wash kills food pathogens in just one minute after application. It has been successfully tested against more than 30 different harmful microbes, including E. coli O157, Salmonella, B. anthracis and Yersinia pestis. The wash doesn’t affect the appearance, flavor, or odor of foods, and it increases shelf life of produce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that food borne pathogens cause more than 76 million illnesses every year in the U.S. alone, hospitalizing some 300,000 people and killing more than 5,000. The technology, which is expected to be incorporated into FIT® Food and Vegetable Wash products by UGARF’s licensee in the first half of this year, is also applicable for use in food processing and transportation facilities, hospitals, restaurants, live animals—and potentially as a food additive in butters, creams and ground meats. This treatment is the culmination of more than a decade of research by Doyle and Zhao in developing food safety interventions for the consumer and food industry.