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UA research aims to remove bacteria from produce, meat

Posted: 9:46 PM, Jun 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-02 16:19:38Z

Contaminated food is an issue that hits nearly 1 in 10 people in the world every year. However, some cutting-edge research being done at the University of Arizona that is reducing those numbers and making our food safer. 

Scientists around the world always tell us you can't really see bacteria, but they are there. Often times they find their way into almost every fruit and vegetable we eat.

To prevent the diseases bacteria can spread, a group of researchers at the UA, led by associate professor Sadhana Ravishankar, are helping businesses and communities find out why bacteria are found in produce and how they can affect people.

"They (companies) send it out to us to test to find out what was going on, what was causing the rotting and we were able to tell them this is the case, so we do all the testing to find out if its fungus, bacteria or something else," Ravishankar said. 

She and the group of researchers have been working for ten years to improve food safety using all-natural sanitizers to prevent outbreaks of E. Coli, salmonella and listeria Southern Arizona.

"It is hard to predict whether an outbreak will happen this year or next, it can happen anytime," Ravishankar said. That is the biggest concern for researchers in the lab. Ravishankar believes an outbreak can happen at any time in our state since we produce more than 80 percent of the nation's greens.

According to Ravishankar food safety is everyone's responsibility, from the industry to researchers to even the consumer, that's why its important for you at home to be extra careful and avoid contamination.

She recommends washing your fruits and veggies, then putting small amounts of essential oil on them, before storing them in the fridge to keep the bacteria out. You can buy the essential oils at Whole Foods or Sprouts.