Researchers at Texas A&M University have engineered a coating to ensure longer-lasting, bacteria-free produce.

To protect various fruits and vegetables during different stages of produce handling and post-harvest treatments, the researchers combined a food grade wax — already commonly used for cosmetic reasons and to prevent water loss — with nano-encapsulated cinnamon-bark essential oil in protein carriers to imbue the produce with antibacterial properties.

Source: Texas A&M UniversitySource: Texas A&M University

The wax coating technology is expected to bolster the safety of fresh produce and offer enhanced protection against bacteria and fungi, as well as providing both immediate and delayed antibacterial effects.

The researchers explained that the nano-encapsulated essential oil prevents the bacteria from attaching to and surviving on fruits or vegetables.

“When bacteria are exposed to essential oil it can break down the bacterial wall,” the researchers noted. “This technology is going to basically help us inactivate the bacteria and fungi to extend the shelf life.”

In the lab, the researchers determined that the coating reportedly inhibited fungal attachment. Specifically, the coating was tested against Aspergillus, which is a fungus responsible for the spoilage of food and the subsequent onset of lung infections in humans. The coating successfully prevented its growth in the lab, the researchers reported.

The hybrid wax coatings are easily scalable and can be implemented in food processing industries.

The coating is detailed in the article, “Edible nano-encapsulated cinnamon essential oil hybrid wax coatings for enhancing apple safety against food borne pathogens,” which appears in the journal Current Research in Food Science.

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