Researchers discover new weapon in battle against food-borne bacteria
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Many foods produced on an industrial scale include raw ingredients mixed together in enormous stainless steel machines that can be difficult to clean. With repeated use, equipment surfaces get minute scratches and grooves, providing bacteria and biofilms the perfect place to hide.

Surface-trapped food residue and bacteria then increase the risk of contamination from micro-organisms such as salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. University of Toronto researchers have a simple solution for food manufacturers battling nasty food-borne illnesses in their industrial plants: cooking oil.

They propose trapping a thin layer of cooking oil at the metal surface to fill in microscopic scrapes, cracks and fissures, creating a barrier to bacterial attachment.

“Coating a stainless steel surface with an everyday cooking oil has proven remarkably effective in repelling bacteria,” says Ben Hatton who collaborated on the project with AGRI-NEO, an Ontario seed processing company looking for a solution to a common problem in the industry.

“The oil fills in the cracks, creates a hydrophobic layer and acts as a barrier to contaminants on the surface.”

Learn more by visiting the University of Toronto.

“Contamination in food preparation equipment can impact individual health, cause costly product recalls and can still result after chemical-based cleaning occurs."
Ben Hatton,
Assistant Professor
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