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Farm to Fork: U of A Students Share New Food Safety Technologies

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

When Jesse Leal, International Auditor and Trainer Food Defense, AIB International, was asked what he would suggest the No. 1 action be taken to improve the safety of our food supply, he replied, “Education and training.” As Jesse says, “A dog can be trained, but food professionals need to be educated to understand why measures are taken to safeguard our food supply.” This understanding is a critical part of any food defense program.

Along with education, Jesse emphasized the importance of prevention and applauded University of Arizona Food Microbiology students for the technologies they are developing to give food processors the tools to this end. Specifically, students of Sadhana Ravishankar, Ph.D., highlighted the use of essential oils and extracts that can be used as bactericidal washes on fresh greens. These students have also developed organic films that can be incorporated in packaging and/or added to bagged greens to inhibit bacterial growth.

Dr. Ravishankar discussed the findings of her research; for example, that a 3 percent addition of onion powder, turmeric or oregano to ground beef dramatically reduces the formation of heterocyclic amines, HCAs (a class of carcinogenic compounds).

This first Cactus Section IFT regional meeting “in recent memory” in Tucson was an excellent showcase for the technologies that are currently under research and development at U of A. Applause to our U of A students and professors who did a great job last Wednesday! They include:

• Libin Zhu- lab manager and Research Specialist
• Dr. Govindaraj Dev Kumar- Postdoctoral Research Associate
• Kamini Joshi- graduate student (third place poster)
• Monique Torres- graduate student
• Gustavo Pinoargote- graduate student
• Joshua Albertson- graduate student (first place poster)
• Aishwarya Rao- graduate student (second place poster)
• Davyn Louis- undergraduate student
• Stacy Suarez- undergraduate student
• Dr. Sadhana Ravishankar- Associate Professor

Bear Down U of A! Same time next year!