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Evaluation of Novel Intervention Strategies for Pathogen Control

Chlorine is used extensively in food processing and transport to disinfect surfaces of all types (e.g., work surfaces, instruments, machinery, containers) that are in contact with edible products due to its low cost, ease of application, and ability to inactivate a wide variety of pathogenic microorganisms. However, there are several drawbacks associated with chlorine-based disinfectants. Chlorine can be consumed rapidly through oxidation, addition, and electrophilic substitution with organic substances present in the food processing waters, which has a detrimental effect on disinfection efficiency. It was reported that there is no free chlorine in chiller water as the chlorine demand is over 400 ppm. The reduction in bacteria recovered from postchill broiler carcasses were reported to result from the mechanical action of the immersion chiller rather than the disinfectant properties of chlorine. A better disinfectant is needed in food processing waters that is applicable to a broad antimicrobial spectrum, while being stable, low cost and of low toxicity.


Researchers discovered that ferric ion is very effective in pathogen reduction including food borne pathogens such as Salmonella and E Coli. The disinfection efficacy of ferric-based compounds is very stable and not affected by the presence of organic substances. The killing efficiency for ferric based compounds is over two magnitudes higher than the chlorine based disinfectants.


A more effective disinfectant based on the ferric compounds can be developed for pathogen reduction for food safety applications.  It is expected that if successful, this approach would be economical and stable, while addressing a broad antimicrobial spectrum. Additionally it would fit into the broader strategy in the plant of the future concept for rapid monitoring and intervention.



Project Contact: Jie Xu



Using Ferric Based Disinfectants in Food Processing Waters