Control of Food Pathogens

Period of Performance: 08/01/1998 - 07/31/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Eastman Medical Products, Inc.
Emeryville, CA 94608
Principal Investigator


Numerous investigations have shown that many poultry products at point of sale contain high levels of virulent pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. Coli, and Listeria. Using technology developed to reduce infection levels in medical patients, we have developed a packaging system, using a polymer, that drastically reduces free fluid and pathogen levels in processed poultry. A prime advantage of our approach is that it introduces no vector to which pathogens can evolve into a more virulent form. In our method, pathogens are encapsulated, deprived of any nutrient, and starved, leaving no potentially toxic substance for human consumption. Preliminary experimental data are presented. Two factorial experiments are proposed, one on whole body fryers and another on chicken parts. The chickens to be tested will be purchased locally and come from a large commercial poultry processor. Comparisons will be made between a control group of commercially processed chickens and two groups of chickens with our packaging, differing in applications of the technology. A similar experiment will be done on chicken parts. We expect to demonstrate drastic reductions in (1) levels of bacteria, both virulent and non-virulent and (2) elimination of free fluids within our packaging. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: Applications exist for this packaging in almost all commercially produced foodstuffs--poultry, fish, meat, fruits and vegetables. Technology already exists to develop commercially viable forms of the material for packaging. The approach insures that pathogens cannot evolve or develop a tolerance for the material. Also, the material is effective at the point of sale to the consumer, minimizing or negating other, more expensive pathogen control measures suggested for processing plants.